MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Monday marks the first day of school for Memphis-Shelby County Schools, the largest district in Tennessee.

It’s also the first day for students in Arlington, Bartlett, and Lakeland schools. Classes in Germantown begin Wednesday and in Collierville, the first day is Thursday.

Going back to school represents a new beginning filled with new teachers, new friends, and new expectations.

“I expect for her to have good grades, and stay on top of things,” said Maricela Montero, MSCS Parent.

The first day back is a big deal for Terri Hart’s kids because this will be their year attending class in person since the start of the pandemic. She says her sons have been virtually learning for the past three years.

“He’s been in public school before. So, I think he’ll do good,” Hart said. “He hasn’t. So, I don’t know. It’ll be an adjustment.”

It’s not just students and parents making adjustments but the district is also making changes. Interim Superintendent Toni Williams says the district has invested more than 50 million dollars in enhanced safety and security measures such as fencing, weapons detection, cameras, and adding more school resource officers.

Williams says there will also be more hands-on learning opportunities for students.

“I think that is the number one key priority for our students to ensure that we continue to give them focus on learning in the extended learning opportunities before, during the day, and after,” Williams said.

“In an effort to increase test scores, she says the district is investing in professional development for teachers and adding a new math curriculum. “You’ll see a 30 million dollar investment in the curriculum this year,” Williams said.

All of this is taking place as school board members continue their search for a permanent superintendent. Williams is now going into her second year leading the district but will not be considered for the official position.

“Our students are in great hands,” Williams said. “We have a strong team – an academic team. We have a strong operations team, and accountability and focus, as I’m leading, are always key to making sure that we put students first. So, parents don’t worry.”

Here’s a roundup of some of the biggest stories in the MSCS district:

School safety has been a big topic over the past year here in Tennessee, and when students arrive this morning, they will notice increased security.

MSCS has spent millions of dollars on upgrades including weapon detection systems, fences, and more cameras.

Tennessee law now requires schools to do a threat assessment and provide active shooter training for their security guards.

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MSCS currently has more than 50 school resource officers across the district.

MSCS says it’s fully staffed with bus drivers this year, unlike during the pandemic.

And the district says school buses are safer than ever this year, with bright, LED flashing lights.

Buses also include a camera under the extendable arm to catch drivers who don’t stop.

Another big topic being discussed as the school year starts — who will be the next superintendent of Memphis-Shelby County Schools?

Applications just reopened last week for that job, after the board decided to put a pause on the search ahead of controversy and calls for transparency.

That means interim Superintendent Toni Williams will continue to serve the district for this school year.

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This morning she is expected to be at Highland Oaks Elementary School and we hope to talk with her about her plans for the year as well as the search for her replacement.

Another change for Memphis Shelby County students this year — students were able to help decide what goes on the lunch menu.

Last year students taste-tested potential new food items and choose their favorites. The top choices were nachos and wings

All Memphis-Shelby County students are eligible for free meals every day.

WREG will be at Cordova Middle School, where community members are encouraged to come out and cheer students on as they get ready for the new school year at 6:45 a.m.