The Keller school district welcomed almost 34,000 students Aug. 27 with a smooth start to the new school year.“I love first days. It’s always fun, visiting with the kids,” said Superintendent Randy Reid. “One of my favorite things to ask them is what they like best about the first day. The most common answer is lunch.“I hope our year is as smooth and as wonderful as the first couple of days.”Reid visited seven KISD campuses on Aug. 27, the first day of classes, and cleared his schedule to get to all 39 schools in the first week and a half.Reid said the mood around the district is optimistic.“I think our teachers are excited about some of the changes,” he said. “They can be more effective from a student engagement level.”Reid mentioned the state legislature’s reduction in testing and adding multiple pathways to graduation and the slight increase in funding. Officials added some secondary teachers to reduce class sizes and some support staff members, most of them personnel positions that were removed from the budget two years ago to cut costs.Traffic around the district was fairly heavy, as expected, on the first day. District officials posted information on construction zones around Keller-Hicks Road and Beach Street/Alta Vista Boulevard, Ray White Road, Heritage Trace Boulevard and Interstate 35W around Basswood Boulevard.Reid said traffic was heavy around Parkwood Hill Intermediate and Hillwood Middle Schools, but not due to any construction, just a lot of cars on the first day.In Keller, Mount Gilead Road construction took place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to avoid interfering with back-to-school traffic.Keller police reported no problems other than a minor issue at Bear Creek Intermediate School, due to a new way of flowing traffic into the entrance.“It had challenges but we are continuing to work with it,” said Mark Hafner, director of public safety and police chief. “We did some site modifications ... we’re trying to alleviate the stack up of cars along Bear Creek Parkway during pick up times.”Bryce Nieman, KISD spokesman, said that a few buses were delayed. As of Aug. 27, 6,500 students were registered to ride buses. Students who live more than two miles from campus can ride the bus for free. Officials closed registration for pay-for-ride inside the two-mile radius because the system had reached its limit.Reid said that enrollment growth was slightly higher than expected and should continue to rise another 300 to 400 students over the next few months. The rebounding housing market and a few new apartment complexes have helped boost numbers. More students translate to more money from the state.“We’re excited about the growth,” Reid said.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @SandraEngelland