Outside of an inadvertent fire alarm at the very end of one elementary school day, DeSoto County School District (DCS) Supt. Cory Uselton said the first day of classes in the state’s largest school district went about as smoothly as could be expected on a first day of instruction.
The false fire alarm cleared Hernando Hills Elementary School in Hernando at the same time students were to be dismissed for the day, Uselton said Thursday afternoon.
“We think it may have tied in with the construction that’s going on their campus,” Uselton said. “The administration handled it well. They took every precautionary measure and evacuated the school.”
He said a maintenance team was working to determine the cause of the false alarm.
Otherwise, Uselton called Thursday “a great first day of school.”
“The students and the teachers were just excited about the school year and everything ran very smoothly,” Uselton told the district’s Board of Education Thursday. “They were excited to be getting back to some sort of normal school.”
For the first time, all 42 attendance centers have School Resource Officers, as the district allocated an additional $2 million in the FY 2022-23 budget to cover the costs. Last year, 30 officers, known as SROs, were assigned to school duty.
In another move to increase safety awareness, teachers performed lockdown drills and law enforcement conducted drills and training sessions in school settings.
“Every elementary school, middle school and high school has a school resource officer,” Uselton said. “Each of the law enforcement agencies has assigned an officer to a school. We want to provide every level of protection to all of our students and staff.”
Even though it was the first day of classes, the superintendent said there remains some shortages of teachers, and of bus drivers to handle transportation needs.
“Our schools needing teachers are getting along with long-term substitutes while they’re still looking for teachers to fill the positions,” Uselton explained. “We also have academic coaches on campuses that could be filling those roles.”
The superintendent added all of the bus routes are being covered but more drivers are being hired to allow those routes to become shorter in length and time before and after school.