EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 29, 2013

Andover sees successful early return to class

ANDOVER — Despite an unusually early start to the year and heavy construction around two sites, Andover schools opened without a hitch yesterday.

Staff at the town’s 10 public schools were reporting solid attendance yesterday as Andover Public Schools returned after a shortened, nine-week summer vacation. The vacation was short because of a late end last year and the town scheduling a pre-Labor Day opening this year.

Schools start next Tuesday in North Andover (Wednesday for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten) and next Wednesday in Methuen (Friday for pre-school and kindergarten).

School started last week in Lawrence as part of an effort to extend learning time in the underperforming school district.

The early start in Andover prompted concerns about low attendance for Day One of 180 school days, but schools reported that simply wasn’t the case.

“We had very good attendance today,” West Middle School Principal Steve Murray said. “There were a handful that didn’t come, and parents let us know ahead of time.”

Over at Sanborn Elementary School, Principal Patricia Barrett said the school had a few families still vacationing overseas during opening week, but beyond that, “we’re in pretty good shape over here.”

Others gave numbers showing strong first-day showings. Out of 110 first- and second-graders expected to attend the first day, Shawsheen School reported only six absences. West Elementary School had 17 students missing out of 658, and Wood Hill Middle School had barely a dozen students absent.

Those numbers reflected typical day-to-day absences, according to school staff.

Liz Roos, West Elementary School principal, said her students “were pumped to be back.”

“They’re so anxious to meet their teachers,” she said.

That’s not to say the early return was popular among parents, however.

“We didn’t like it at all,” West Middle School parent Lesley Shahbazian said.

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