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First day of school for Muscogee County students mostly smooth despite glitches in traffic, registration

Monday was the first day of classes for Muscogee County students — but some had trouble registering for school.

Parents and students crowded the lobby of the Muscogee County Public Education Center Monday afternoon, waiting for their number to be called so they could register. Superintendent Susan Andrews said the new residency affidavit was causing some problems for parents who waited until the first day of school to register their child.

“The residency affidavit has caused long lines and frustration, particularly for those living with other residents,” Andrews said.

All parents of students in Muscogee County school must fill out a residency affidavit this year, stating that they live in the county. The affidavit was implemented this school year to help determine out-of-county and out-of-state students and make sure each is paying the appropriate tuition. Tuition for out-of-county students is $2,525 and tuition for out-of-state students is $8,547.

Marie Mitchell said the new affidavit caused some problems for her daughter, Wanisha Foster, when she tried to register her son, Martarius Ash, for kindergarten at Wynnton Elementary. Foster lives with Mitchell, so Mitchell had to come to sign the affidavit as well.

“Usually there’s just a paper that they send out. Now they’ve got to have deeds and a lease,” Mitchell said, waiting in the board room for her number to be called. She was number 338.

“We came Friday and we came back today,” Mitchell said.

Renee Thomason – number 337 – had been waiting an hour to register her son for seventh grade at Blackmon Road Middle. She said she waited until today to register because she wasn’t sure where she was going to live. She recently moved from Harris County to live with a friend and is looking for a house.

“They wouldn’t take a lease agreement because the utilities are in her name,” she said. She said her friend had to come to registration with her, so she could sign the residency affidavit.

“I think it’s kind of messed up,” she said of the crowds.

Monday morning, traffic was also heavy at some schools, particularly around Northside High, Chief Operations and Facilities Officer Myles Caggins said. He said he was getting reports of delays up to 20 minutes, and they have spoken to the city’s traffic engineer about getting someone to direct traffic.

Andrews said many parents bring their kids on the first day of school.

“We expect traffic to get better as the week goes on,” she said.

Despite the delays in registration and traffic, Andrews said the first day went smoothly overall. The projected enrollment for this year is 32,600 students.

At Hannan Elementary, kindergartner Arianna Dooley said she was excited to start school.

“Because you get to play with toys and learn,” she said, standing outside her classroom Monday morning. Her mother, Michelle Dooley, said they were still adjusting to the earlier start time.

“Her bus schedule is ridiculous,” Dooley said. “The bus stops down the street from our house at 6:41 a.m. — for a kindergartner. She gets home at 3:05 p.m., which is fair.”

All Muscogee schools are operating on different schedules this year, to save time and money on bus transportation. Elementary students start classes at 8 a.m. and get out at 2:30 p.m. Middle school students start classes at 9 a.m. and get out at 4:05 p.m. Most high schools, except Jordan and Spencer, will have classes from 8:25 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. Jordan and Spencer students will have classes from 7:40 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.

Laura Massey, who was dropping her granddaughter Areyel Geddes off at kindergarten, said she liked the earlier start times.

“They get out, they get breakfast,” she said. “It doesn’t bother me to come early.”

Areyel said she was excited to start her first day of school.

“Ever since last year, she’s been ready to come to school,” Massey said.

Students in Phenix City and Russell and Lee counties also began classes Monday.

In Russell County, officials reported smooth sailing for the first day with only minor traffic congestion and some confusion at Mount Olive Elementary School. The school, located in the Fort Mitchell area, is currently undergoing renovations and a 12-classroom addition.

“Parents had a little trouble getting in and out because of construction,” Superintendent Mike Green said Monday afternoon, adding by 8:30 a.m. everyone was inside the school.

“We’ve had good day,” Green said. “It was great day.”

— Annie McCallum contributed to this report.

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