SCHOOLS in Portmore and Spanish Town got off to relatively a smooth start to the school year Monday, although several new students were just being registered in primary schools, while some schools grappled with overcrowding.
Classes began at some schools visited by the Jamaica Observer, while scores of parents lined up at others to register their children.
At Braeton Primary and Junior High, several parents were seen presenting documents, including birth certificates, immunisation cards and photographs for their children to be registered in the primary department as well as for the Alternative Secondary Transition Education Programme (ASTEP).
A 'passing of the baton' was in progress as new principal Marvin Clowson was being briefed by his predecessor Fitz Jackson.
"We are ensuring there is a smooth transition from one leg to the other, so that there is nothing untoward going on in the school," Clowson said.
He said students from grades one to six as well as those on ASTEP were present on the morning shift, while grades seven to nine would come in for the afternoon shift. The ASTEP is a remedial programme for students who completed primary school without passing the Grade Four Literacy Test.
"A number of parents who should have some in last week for orientation and in previous weeks for registration, some unfortunately are just turning up. It has put added pressure on the office staff," he said.
The new principal said he was awaiting the approval of the Ministry of Education for the hiring of a few new teachers before settling all the students into their new classes.
He also appealed to parents whose children are to be placed in ASTEP to send their children out to school.
He said the school, which served as the ASTEP centre for Portmore, had spaces for more than the 157 students in the programme.
At Naggo Head Primary, principal Floretta Plummer said school started well although teachers were stretched attending to massive class sizes.
"We are bit overcrowded but we're working with it. We have 55 per class but we are getting the results, and I think that's what's important," the principal said.
She also said there was a slight furniture shortage.
"We are short of desks and chairs for the teachers but are working on that for the end of the week because I don't think we are going to get anything from government", she noted.
At Spanish Town High, scores of parents were on hand meeting with senior staff to work out auxiliary fee payment plans.
Acting Principal Leopold Porter said it was a challenge to collect the auxiliary fees of $5,000 for the year, as about 70 per cent of the students were on the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
Meanwhile, Earl Headley, vice principal of St Catherine High, said past students of the school assisted present students with auxiliary fees.
"Over the years collection auxiliary funds has never been a problem for us. There are ways in which we bend backwards to help those who don't pay," he said.
Porter said orientation of students would continue all week at the double-shift school.
Meanwhile Ascot High begins classes on September 7.