Dougherty begins new year

Photo by Joe Bellacomo

Photo by Joe Bellacomo

ALBANY, Ga. -- Just a little more than a month ago, Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfree made full attendance on Day One of the opening of the new school year one of his top priorities.

DCSS Public Information Director R.D. Harter visited seven schools and chatted with their principals on Monday when the system began its 2011-12 school year.

"We won't have the preliminary attendance numbers until after lunch tomorrow (Tuesday)," Harter said. "But all the principals I talked to said the Day One numbers were up from in the past."

Harter, giving a "ball park estimate," said he guessed that nearly 12,000 of the system's 15,000-plus students were in school on opening day.

"Every principal I talked to told me this is as good of a start as they can remember," Harter said. "We'd like to thank the media and our local pastors for giving us a hand in getting the word out. We think it helped a lot."

Harter said there were few transportation problems, mostly students missing buses because they were not at the bus stops at their assigned times.

"We had fewer transport issues today than in the four years I've been here," Harter said. "We sent 135 buses out on time and they were on schedule. The kids missing these buses will adjust. These issues are minor and will be worked out quickly."

Opening day also brought a steady stream of traffic into the school administration building on Pine Avenue.

"If people were coming in here, it meant they were lost in the woods and usually didn't know in which school their child or children were registered," Harter said. "We had to tell them they had to register at their zoned school. We had fewer of them than last year, but the ones that came in today had all waited until the last minute to register their kids.

"Overall, the traffic into the building wasn't that unusual for opening day."

Harter said, in general, he thought it was a good opening day of school "for everyone involved in the process."

"I can't say how many students we'll have in the system this year because registration is still ongoing," said Harter. "We hope that by Friday we have at least 85 percent of the students settled and in school. I can't guarantee anything, but in my mind I feel 85 percent is a good, smart goal."