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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s back-to-school for students in Philadelphia. For the first time ever, they’re hitting the books before Labor Day.
Students coming back to school Monday may not be looking forward to their summer vacation being cut short, but school officials say that means they should expect to end school a little earlier in June.
“That seeks to do two things: front load the instructional time so that more instructional time in the beginning of the year before Memorial Day and start with uninterrupted weeks of school,” said Philadelphia Public Schools Superintendent Dr. William Hite.
Hite says the district also started a social media campaign called #RingthebellPHL to get kids and the community ready for the early start.
“At 8 a.m. on Monday, whether they’re in route, at home, at the office, or dropping their child off to school, we’re asking everyone to be part of a bell-ringing ceremony,” said Hite.
Monday morning, safety will be on the minds of many parents as their kids walk into their classrooms. Dr. Hite says school leaders are addressing that in different ways.
“Everything from developing teachers to do the work, to modernizing classrooms, so that students are in learning spaces that are more conducive to what they are trying to do,” said Hite.
Many students are excited to start school early. Some are even setting personal goals for the year.
“Hoping to get into clubs with my friends, interacting with other people and trying to learn new things with the teachers,” said Samia McCoy, a 10th grade student.
There are other changes students in the Philadelphia school district will notice. Some buildings have been modernized. New tech-based classes are being offered, like robotics. And at the School of the Future, “We’re gonna have brand new chrome books for every single student to use. They will be taking them home,” said Richard Sherin, the principal of of the School of the Future in West Philly.
Another change is the school board is now locally controlled for the first time in 17 years. It’s planning to hold several meetings at different schools throughout the year at 7 p.m., which will consist district updates and a question-and-answer session.
Here’s when and where they are:
Sept. 4, West Elementary School; Oct. 1, York Elementary School; Nov. 5, New Philadelphia High School Lecture Hall; Dec. 3, Central Elementary School; March South Elementary School; April 1, Welty Middle School auditorium; and May 6, East Elementary School.
Hite believes the nine-member local board will be able to make better policy and budgetary decisions than when it was controlled by the commonwealth. The new board will also hold several town hall meetings throughout the year, hosting them at different schools each time.