Maybe you're new to the area and haven't yet registered your child for school. Perhaps you forgot about that required seventh-grade immunization. Or maybe the bus route has changed since last year, meaning your child will be picked up 10 minutes earlier than you thought.
Those are just a few of the snafus that can make the first day of school less than stellar for you and your child. And of course, you want to start out on the right foot.
Make it a point to get to the orientation days scheduled on Aug. 10 for middle and high school students, and Aug. 11 for elementary students.
That's when a bulk of those problems can be worked out — meaning your child won't miss the bus on the first day of school or end up hanging out in the school office getting a class schedule.
For first-time students, those entering pre-K or kindergarten or coming to Pasco schools for the first time, orientation is just that. It's a time to become familiar with the school campus: find the classrooms and learn the route to the cafeteria, gymnasium, school clinic, and so on.
At elementary schools, students have the opportunity to meet their teachers, who will share a wealth of information, such as when nap time and lunch are scheduled, and what days the specials (music, art and PE classes) are scheduled so students can dress appropriately (kids will need sneakers on PE days and clothing that can get messy on art days).
Teachers will want some information from you, too, such as food allergies or special concerns and which students will be bus riders, car riders, or walking or riding their bicycles to school. Younger students will often be furnished with a special name tag to wear during the first week of school so students end up in the proper place at dismissal time. Bus passes will be assigned. Information also will be available for PTA/PTO, volunteer opportunities and the after-school care programs that serve the school.
Secondary students can pick up their class schedules and their bus pass, get locker and parking assignments and purchase that required vocabulary book.
Parents should have emergency contact information on hand. Bring the checkbook to pay for applicable fees, preorder the yearbook at a discounted rate, or, if the school offers, pay an "opt out" fundraising fee — meaning your child won't be asked to sell wrapping paper or candy during the school year to raise money for various school programs.
A word to the wise: Be prepared to wait in line, especially during the high-traffic times. If possible, set aside some time to sign up for the PTA, fill out that free or reduced-price lunch paperwork, or complete the volunteer application so you can chaperone the field trips or to help out in the classroom this coming year.
For information about specific hours on orientation day, contact your child's school, check out its website or look in the school newsletter.
Students entering a Florida school for the first time, at any grade level, will be asked to present the following items upon registration at the school (please note special conditions in parentheses):
• Current immunization records.
• Proof of a physical examination dated and signed by a licensed health professional within the last 12 months.
• Birth certificate.
• Social Security number (if available).
• Proof of Florida residency (such as utility bill, lease agreement, etc.).
• Copy of student's last report card (if applicable).
• Legal guardianship records (if applicable).
Please note: Students entering kindergarten for the first time must be 5 years of age on or before Sept. 1, 2010. Pre-K and Head Start/Early Start programs are available to students who will not make the deadline.
Students currently enrolled in Pasco County schools will already be in the computer system, and should not have to present any additional material. If your child is moving from elementary to middle, or from middle to high, however, you may want to bring proof of address (such as an electric or other utility bill) in case it is needed. Students moving from one school to another under the school choice program should be prepared to present their approved school choice application at the time of registration.
Attention to anyone born in Puerto Rico: The government of Puerto Rico has enacted a new law aimed at strengthening the issuance and usage of birth certificates in order to combat fraud and protect the identity and credit of all people born in Puerto Rico. Effective July 1, 2010: All Puerto Rico birth certificates issued before this date will be invalidated. This will be done so that new, more secure certificates can be issued.
As of July 1, it will be necessary for all citizens born in Puerto Rico to be issued a new official birth certificate. Citizens living in the States will be able to request and receive their new birth certificates through a simple mail process. People who have an immediate need (i.e., request for a passport, or other official purpose) should submit their request as soon as possible.
For information, to review the law or to download a birth certificate application, visit www.prfaa.com/birthcertificates.