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First Day Of School In NYC Leads To New Opportunities, Same Old Problems

Bloomberg, Walcott All Smiles, But Some Parents, Students End Up Frustrated
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Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott with kids at the Spruce Street school cafeteria (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott with kids at the Spruce Street school cafeteria (credit: Juliet Papa/1010 WINS)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City students were back in class Thursday and for the city’s new Schools Chancellor, it was a chance to greet kids at a handful of schools.

But not everyone was thrilled with how the new year kicked off.

It’s Dennis Walcott’s first full year as head of the city’s public school system, which serves 1.1 million students. Walcott greeted students Thursday morning with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the new Spruce Street School in Lower Manhattan. He said he’s excited about a new school-wide curriculum.

“What common corp is quite frankly about is a richer, deeper investment in learning for our students,” he said.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb: The Chancellor Is Excited

The Spruce Street School is on the bottom floors of a Frank Gehry-designed apartment building.

One student was so excited for the first day of school, he wore a tuxedo.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports: Students Excited For First Day Of School

Bloomberg appointed Walcott to head the city’s school system on April 7 after publishing executive Cathie Black resigned. Walcott and Bloomberg spent the day touring schools in all five boroughs.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg was the focus of a new poll that shows more than half of all New Yorkers disapprove of the work he’s doing to improve education. But Bloomberg didn’t seem too concerned.

“In the end, polls don’t really matter,” he said Thursday.

But while there was room for most students across the city, some were scrambling for a seat on Thursday, reports CBS 2’s John Slattery.

Outside a registration center at Theodore Roosevelt High School in the Bronx, it was a long line of frustrated parents and students.

“It’s so bad. Every year getting worse and worse and worse,” parent Karen Casada said.

Casada said she took her sixth grade son to his old school, PS 126, but he wasn’t on the list, and got no letter over the summer.

“I didn’t receive anything. No notice, nothing,” Casada said.

She’s not alone. She was with scores of other families outside student registration centers. Some people moved to the city from elsewhere. And others want transfer schools, but some students found they were in limbo.

Nicole Cedeno is a ninth grader.

“In the summer they’re supposed to send you a letter about schedule. I never got that,” Cedeno said.

The Department of Education was unable to say how many students were not notified as to where they should be. It offers 12 registration centers before school starts, to avoid the problem. Walcott said the confusion was for a variety of reasons.

“Some students go to schools not zoned for, so they show up and think they can get in but it’s not their district. So each case is different,” Walcott said.

While the Department of Education said it will all be sorted out, for many of these people the first day was a waiting game.

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(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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