MILWAUKEE -- Kids around the Hamlin Garland school on the city's south side had no excuse to oversleep Tuesday morning. State and city leaders filled the neighborhood, ringing school bells to welcome kids into the 2013 school year.
Governor Scott Walker, Mayor Tom Barrett and State Superintendent Dr. Tony Evers greeted kids and families as they headed to class on day one. Milwaukee Public Schools wants to focus on better preparing kids for a future in college.
Hamlin Garland is a school MPS thinks can help highlight that goal. It's a waiting list school that moved into a larger building and grew by about 100 students since last year.
Kids scored well on the state's new report card system here. The school also got recognition for helping low-income students improve their grades and test scores.
This year, MPS hopes to improve specialized learning, hiring 45 new art, music and phy. ed teachers. Those are areas MPS and other districts cut back on in recent years.
Leaders think the basics are important, but giving students more educational options will help them succeed in the future.
"You get a better rounded student when you're able to develop both sides of the brain," Mayor Barrett said. "I think it's very important for education. And there's some kids who really thrive in that area and they may not thrive in math or science, but they may thrive in the arts and they need to get educated as well."
"If they're learning to read particularly in the elementary schools, not only with the teachers here, but with the parents at home and others who are supporting their sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters," Governor Walker said. "If they're reading and they're showing up, they're going to make it through school, they're going to graduate and be part of a great state."
"We continue to bring innovation to our school district," MPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton said. "Personalized learning, things we think are going to engage young people and actually have families wanting to be with us. Nowadays, folks have choices. And we've got to make MPS the choice."
Dr. Thornton pointed out more than eight out of every ten students in MPS get free or reduced lunch. He says thanks to the district and Salvation Army, those students are able to eat breakfast, lunch and sometimes even dinner at school, further helping them learn.