NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Crossing guard Donna Bryant had her trusty orange and yellow vest on and portable two-way stop sign in her right hand at 7:15 p.m. as she began the hour-long task of helping children -- and parents there with some of them -- cross Ronnoc Lane at Palm Street for the first day of school.
"I love it," she said with a smile, of her routine, which she has been doing now for 11 years. "I love being with the kids and meeting the parents."
Altogether, Volusia County welcomed students from 81 public schools, as well as three new charter schools: k-5 Reading Star in Orangew City, k-8 Ivy Hawn Charter School of the Arts in Lake Helen and the k-8 Burns Science and Technology School in Oak Hill.
Among the new mandates for students this year is a "dress code" -- primarily no more baggy pants with underwear showing, flip flops or bare midriffs. High school studentds must also take at least one virtual class online.
The tenative district-wide budget for the school year is $796.8 million, of which $465 million covers operating costs for 4,500 teachers. Whether the teachers receive raises is subject to ongoing negotiations.
Enrollment is down about 600 students from last year's 61,684 in class, district spokeswoman Nancy Wait said, adding she'd likely have more up-to-date figures at the end of the school day.