BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Friday, 30,000 students throughout 60 of the Buffalo Public Schools facilities walked, drove or rode a bus to start the new school year.

“We started out the day with every route fully covered with a bus and a driver. We have not been able to do that since before the pandemic,” David Hills, chief operating officer of Buffalo Public Schools, said.

The last time they had the full route covered on the first day was 2015.

“Last year, we had 40-50 routes uncovered for the first two months of school. That leads us to not having to double up buses. That leads to kids getting to school on time. It leads to a full instructional day.”

He believes the result of this success is from the three-tiered bell bus system that the school has implemented.

At several schools throughout the district, students and staff were greeted by community leaders and BPS officials with loads of excitement.

“This is how we do it; there ain’t no stopping us now.” said Dr. Tonja M. Williams, superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools. “It’s not just me; it’s everyone and it’s contagious. We are excited, we are so happy to have our children back. We’re thrilled that the parents entrusted their children to us, the staff is ready, our schools look magnificent, the teachers have been working hard to make sure their classrooms are engaging.”

Along with all of the excitement of the first day was the anticipation of reaching this year’s goals. This year, they hope to increase math, reading and graduation rates.

“We are about moving forward, so get the word out that Buffalo, this year, is going to be a transitional year, like never seen before in the district,” a school board member said during the press conference. “We are about moving the literacy, the math and the graduation rates to the highest level we can do.”

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Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.