Back to school (157291)

It may still feel like summer outside, but thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District students headed back to class Tuesday for the first day of school.

Nearly 650,000 students in the nation’s second-largest school district flocked to campuses across the area. Only one school in the district, Bell Senior High School, still operates on a year-round schedule. Those students went back to class on July 1.

For everyone else, the alarm clock began ringing early Tuesday morning. District officials and members of the Board of Education fanned out across the area to welcome students back to class, stressing district goals of 100 percent attendance, parent and community engagement and school safety. They were also checking seventh-graders to ensure they have been immunized against whooping cough. Seventh-graders without proof of immunization will not be able to attend classes.

“We begin again today to work together, to do our best and to help our students learn more every day,’’ Superintendent Ramon Cortines said

Los Angeles School Police and Los Angeles Police Department officers were also out in force around campuses to ensure student safety, and to ensure motorists were driving cautiously around kids walking to school. District officials urged students walking to and from school to travel in groups, and young kids should be escorted by an adult or older students.

In conjunction with the first day of school, district officials also said there were no problems with the LAUSD’s My Integrated Student Information

System, known as MiSiS, which was beset with problems since the record-keeping computer system went online before school began last year. The breakdowns left hundreds of students without proper class schedules, and many teachers were unable to properly records students’ grades. District officials said the system experienced no problems this week, noting that while some schools requested administrative support, the issues were unrelated to MiSiS.

“Compared with last year, we’re more prepared and more proactive, and we’re doing better because we addressed issues early on,” said Diane Pappas, district CEO of Strategic Planning and Digital Innovation.

Cortines said the district went to great lengths to repair the network while revamping instruction plans and teaming with teachers and parents to encourage the success of students.

“Despite the challenges we’ve faced, I’ve never seen so much excitement and enthusiasm for the start of the school year,” Cortines said. “Everyone has come together to help pick up the broken pieces of our schools and put them back together again.”

He said he was confident the MiSiS system will continue running effectively as school starts, but a team of technicians will be on duty to address last-minute glitches.

Cortines said students will see more nurses, counselors and librarians at campuses, along with smaller math and English classes in secondary schools.

He also stressed that unlike last year, when the district had more than 200 teacher vacancies, every classroom will have a permanent teacher, not a substitute, on opening day.

“We overcame a lot of challenges over the last year, and we will continue to overcome them, thanks to the inexhaustible determination of our entire LAUSD family,” Cortines said.

Steve Zimmer, president of the district’s Board of Education, said the beginning of the year brings hope for students’ future.

“LAUSD schools are the places where American dreams can come true,’’ he said. “Nothing is more powerful than the potential of our children. May the hope of this day supercharge a new spirit of collaboration around public education in Los Angeles that will change lives and transform communities.”