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Kindergarten Students Stay Cool on 1st Day | News

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Kindergarten Students Stay Cool on 1st Day

SANDY SPRINGS, GA -- In Ms. Spizman's kindergarten class at Spalding Drive Charter Elementary School, there were brave faces and proud parents but no tears.

"We were here for Pre-K last year, so it's easier," said Rachel Simon, who snapped photos of her son Eli at his desk early Monday. "He's doing great."

"He's pretty excited, but he keeps it inside," said Matt Simon, Eli's dad. "He just wants us to leave."

Monday is the first day of school for more than 92,000 students in Fulton County Schools, the state's fourth largest public school system.

Students started their first day at least two weeks later than other school systems in Metro Atlanta.

To make up the time, the system's adding ten minutes of math instruction to every school day.

"It's thinking of the kids when they're extending the schedule, which works for me," said parent Brenda Thomas. 



Spalding Drive Elementary is a charter school, a concept that's catching on.

In fact, this year Fulton County administrators will explore whether to ask the state to grant charter status to the entire system.

"You can really look at the needs of the community and address them and ask for waivers from the state," said Spalding Drive principal Christine Young. "I'm still accountable to Fulton County. I have state guidelines."

Parents are also held more accountable in charter schools.

Their input will be critical as the county considers what's next.

The late start is saving the system more than $1 million in a lean budget year.

The school year will be three days shorter with the late start and the elimination of several early release days.

"Despite the shortened year, students actually will spend eight more hours in class annually as a result of the added minutes," said Allison Toller, spokeswoman for the school system.

Another big change this year involves the elimination of band and orchestra programs for elementary schools.

They were eliminated by the school board because of budget constraints.

Now they'll be offered after school for a monthly fee.