An ‘A+’ for optimism as the new school year begins …

From nervous kindergartners curious about school lunch to seniors embarking on their final year, Brevard County students returned to school Friday.

Beachside students were met with sweeping administrative changes across several schools, a new regional busing program for those who go to school outside their assigned zone, plus new school resource officers and increased security.

Students at Ocean Breeze Elementary got a personal introduction to new principal Shelley Michaud as she visited classrooms on Friday and mingled all over the busy campus, while Satellite High’s new principal, Bobby Pruett, also greeted the day with gusto.

“Everything is going fantastic,” Pruett said just after lunchtime.

“We had a lot of turnover this year, a lot of new staff, new administration. It was a great first day.”

He said all buses ran on time, and much of the staff’s attention was turned to helping students new to the school this year.

While beachside buses reported no problems, there were a few glitches with regional busing. Brevard Public Schools spokesman Matt Reed said six regional buses were late, with three of them arriving at their final destinations 30 minutes or more after school started.

“Two of those three were due to new bus drivers misunderstanding their route directions,” Reed said. “The other may have been due to inadequate planning of travel time between stops, but we’re still investigating. Unfortunately, late buses are common in every district on the first day of school.”

Reed said the district received about 40 calls from parents regarding regional busing, mostly seeking clarification on the location of their student’s bus stop.

Some 2,238 students are signed up for regional busing, which shuttles kids from central pick-up and drop-off locations to magnet and choice programs around the county. The next window to sign up for regional busing will be Sept. 1.

Some parents were also confused as to why the first day of school was not an early-release day. Early-release days were changed to Fridays this year, but the new policy didn’t take effect until the first full of week of school.

Surfside Elementary welcomed a new class of kindergartners Friday, with the school’s resident chicken and roosters even coming out to say hello.

Kindergartners start on a staggered schedule, so some had to wait until this week to experience their first day of school.

Gemini Elementary’s first- through sixth-graders started school Friday, as did their new school resource officer. Kindergartners started on Wednesday. Principal Jennifer Julian said Friday that the school had 467 students registered so far.

“It’s amazing,” Julian said. “We’re so happy to have our kids back.”

 Correspondent Benjamin Thacker and Staff Writer Lisa Zahner contributed to this report.

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