Beaufort students head back to school

Few hiccups reported Monday morning

tbarton@beaufortgazette.comAugust 19, 2013 

Students attending a new charter school arrived at their classrooms to find that exercise balls had replaced their desk chairs.

Meanwhile, the arrival of students at two Beaufort County public high schools was delayed by bus problems, and some parents were surprised to learn the school district has switched to a new payment system for its cafeterias.

The Beaufort County School District's 2013-14 academic year started Monday with only handful of minor hiccups, officials say.

Among the day's developments:

  • Two buses broke down on their way to Whale Branch Middle School and Beaufort High School. Mechanics were called out and were able to fix both buses on scene within 15 to 20 minutes, said school district spokesman Jim Foster.
  • On the other hand, students arrived and departed from another northern Beaufort County school with relative ease: Beaufort Elementary School officials say the last students were safely loaded into their parents' cars and on their way home within 25 minutes of dismissal.
City and school officials introduced new traffic procedures in an attempt to ease twice-a-day traffic jams that drew complaints last school year from parents and those living near the school in downtown Beaufort.

Lt. Charles Squires, of the City of Beaufort police department's Operations Division, said parents were overwhelmingly accommodating.

"Overall, 99 percent of the drivers were very cooperative," Squires said. "The planning has shown how we can keep the traffic flowing, if parents and students cooperate and follow the plan."

NEW LUNCH PLAN

An old online lunch-payment system was incompatible with updated software installed in cafeteria lunch lines, so the district switched from MyLunchMoney.com to PayPAMS.com, according to Phyllis White, the district's chief of operations.

No problems were reported with the new system, and remaining balances on the old system were transferred to the new vendor. Fliers were handed out to parents last week at school open houses and given to principals to share.

Students can still pay cash for their lunch or send a check to school.

White said the new point-of-sale system allows student ID cards to be scanned for payment, rather than inputting each student's ID number. It also is integrated with a student-information system that allows schools to identify transfer students eligible for free and reduced-priced lunches.

White said PayPAMS, like the old MyLunchMoney system, will send email reminders when account balances run low, schedule automatic payments and allow the user to view daily purchases and menus.

"It's just a different name," White said of the new system.

NEW CHARTER SCHOOL

At Bridges Preparatory School, a state-chartered school that conducted its first classes Monday, many students found exercise balls awaited where they might have expected desk chairs.

"It's good for their posture, and it is good for those students who need to wiggle a bit. It's much better for their attention if they can move around a bit," said head of school Melesia Walden.

The school is split between two campuses for its inaugural year. Those in kindergarten and first grade attend classes at the Beaufort County-owned Charles Lind Brown Community Center on Hamar Street. Those in grades two through six are about half a mile away at the Beaufort Boys & Girls Club.

Nine-year-old Kylie Guinn said she enjoyed bouncing on the exercise balls and declared the first day of class in a new school a success.

His mother "€" who has two other children at the school, ages 10 and 7 "€" said the first day seemed to go off without a hitch.

"I was nervous and came about 15 minutes early, but everything has gone smoothly," said Cortney Guinn of Parris Island. "There were a lot of cars, but teachers were great at directing us and well organized."

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