As they converged on the K-8 center, there was a mixture of giddy smiles or apprehensive frowns on the faces of hundreds of students starting the first day of the 2023 school year Thursday.
Some came on foot, others by car. And of course, it being Key Biscayne, many came by golf cart, e-bike, or scooter.
Delfina Majdalani was dropping off her first grader, but there was no unease.
“She was really, really relaxed,” she said, “They were really happy. They were together with the same children,” she said.
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Don Roessler kept up a family tradition by making the first day a bicycle outing.
“We’ve done it for two years now. This is our third year, and we always come in together,” he said. The group’s pedaling expedition via Glenridge Drive seemed to overcome a fifth grader’s initial hesitation.
“My grandson was a little reluctant to come at first,” said Roessler, with new teachers and new people in his class. “But today, he’s really excited.”
Miami-Dade school officials said 845 students arrived at the K-8 on the first day, compared to 922 last October. At MAST Academy on Virginia Key, there were 1,484 starting classes, compared to 1,613 last year. District officials said, however, that enrollment statistics fluctuate and typically increase after the first week.
Village officials had been concerned about Crandon Boulevard traffic because of the ongoing turn lane expansion, which has had a few construction setbacks. The Village announced it would no longer close the right lane, and Police Chief Frank Sousa reported no major traffic issues.
At the district level, the Miami-Dade superintendent, Dr. Jose Dotres, reported a smooth first day. He said he’d been concerned about ongoing record heat, but noted there were 50% fewer air conditioning calls than last year.
Dotres said there are 198 teacher vacancies in core subject areas, but said the number is also down from the previous year.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.