NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Monday marked the first day back in class for more than 1 million public school students in New York City.
As CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported, the city also has rolled out education and safety initiatives for the new school year.
And as for the students, they were dressed in their best, posing proudly and walking hand-in-hand with their parents as they arrived for the first day.
The first day of school was full of optimism and high expectations from parents that rubbed off on their children. Shamiha Islam said she wanted to be “excellent.”
“I just want to go to the fifth grade,” she said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott welcomed students Monday at Gregorio Luperon High School for Science and Mathematics in Washington Heights.
“Hope you all had a great summer, but not so fantastic that you’re not excited to be here,” Bloomberg told students.
“Your teachers are going to challenge you to stretch yourselves,” Walcott added.
The mayor said learning is a lifelong process.
“I take a Spanish lesson every day. I’ve been doing it for years,” he said. “I’m not going to die until I speak Spanish like a native.”
Walcott said there is a lot that is new this year.
“You’ll have new schools, so we’ll have 76 new schools opening up,” he said. “The other new thing is we will have 1.5 million new textbooks in our schools.”
Some students, including Shamiha, said they had their own ideas for the city.
“More teachers, maybe, ’cause the classroom sizes are too many kids,” she said.
New buses and the city’s core curriculum have also been introduced as well as new classroom technologies to enhance interactive learning programs.
School Zone Speeding Enforcement Begins
With the start of a new school year comes a new initiative to curb speeding near school zones.
The Department of Transportation has installed 20 speed cameras near chronic speeding spots across the five boroughs. The city has identified 100 areas in school zones where speeding is an issue.
“We do have the ability to move them to school zones without disclosing where they will be just like we do with red-light cameras,” said Bloomberg.
Using radar technology, the cameras will detect speeding cars then snap pictures of license plates.
For the first few weeks, motorists caught on camera going 10 or more miles above the speed limit will get only warnings. Eventually, speeders will be subject to a $50 fine.
According to city officials, there is a 70 percent chance that a child will die if hit by a car driving just 40 mph, but an 80 percent chance that child will live if hit by a car traveling 30 mph — the city’s speed limit.
“In New Orleans for example, speed cameras led to an 84 percent drop in speeding,” Bloomberg said. “And other research shows that speed cameras reduce injuries and fatalities by something like 40 or 45 percent.”
In May, 4-year-old Ariel Russo was killed by a speeding SUV as her grandmother walked her to pre-K on the Upper West Side.
In February, 6-year-old Amar Diarrassouba was hit and killed by a truck as he crossed the street on his way to school in East Harlem.
The city is also enforcing speeding with its red-light cameras, aggressive action by the NYPD and by creating at least 11 school zones where the speed limit is reduced to 20 mph.
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