Monday was back to school for several students across Green Country.
Osage SkyNews 6 HD flew overhead as Union Public School students went back to class today at the 6th and 7th grade center. 16,000 students are in the district, making Union the eighth largest school district in the state.
The 40,000 students and their teachers in Tulsa Public Schools also started a new year of classes Monday.
The district starts off the year with a new strategic plan that includes more training for teachers, and, later this week, new math and reading plans for students.
The day started early for Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist, along with TPS students, teachers and support staff.
Gist boarded a bus to highlight the changes to bell times and bus routes the district engineered to save an estimated $1 million a year on transportation.
Besides the regular yellow bus, TPS students can ride Tulsa Transit for free this year for the first time.
Gist said the district, in starting the new strategic plan, is changing some teaching methods to dig deeper, especially in reading classes.
"So that students are discussing with one another and engaging beyond the surface level learning that we hear from parents they want us to do more of," she said.
Many schools had community members outside their buildings Monday morning, welcoming students to class - another effort orchestrated by the district to boost morale and pride in TPS.
It comes after continued negative attention on the state education crisis.
Monday, the state school board association reported an early August shortage of more than 500 teachers, despite cutbacks that eliminated 1,500 teaching position.
Tulsa is starting the year fully staffed, but down year to year.
Gist said, "We did not lose teachers, we were able to place teachers in different placements, but we did lose some positions. We have about 100 fewer teaching positions this year, even though our student population is about the same, so some of our schools will see larger class sizes."
Even though the first day was Monday, TPS is still enrolling students. It's important for that to happen quickly - after three days, if they haven't shown up, students drop off the roll at their assigned school.
Also Monday, students at Tulsa's McKinley Elementary got a warm welcome back to school from the ORU cheerleaders.
They lined up outside the school so they could greet students as they got off the bus.
Five of McKinley's teachers are ORU graduates.