From L.A. Daily News by Barbara Jones:

By Barbara Jones, Los Angeles Daily News

Posted: 08/13/13, 7:18 PM PDT | Updated: 4 hrs ago

Tuesday was a day of firsts across Los Angeles Unified.

For best friends Rabona Rahim and Katelyn Marinero, it was the first day of kindergarten at Fair Avenue Elementary in North Hollywood.

For Sandra Gephart, it was the first day as principal at Arleta High.

And for Monica Ratliff, it was the first time in a decade the lawyer-turned teacher hadn’t started the academic year in her classroom at San Pedro Elementary. Instead, the school board’s newest member spent Tuesday touring a half-dozen campuses in her East San Fernando Valley district, meeting with faculty, chatting with parents and greeting students as they headed to class.

“I would love to be in the classroom,” admitted Ratliff, who gave up her teaching post after winning the election. “The first day of school is always filled with such promise and excitement.”

Across Los Angeles Unified, an estimated 600,000 students started the 2013-14 year at more than 1,160 campuses, where security aides in brightly colored vests provided a new and visible presence at entry gates.

Compared with last year, when the district opened 20 brand-new campuses, just one debuted on Tuesday — the Dr. Sammy Lee Medical and Health Science Magnet in Koreatown. Its opening relieved crowding at neighboring schools and allowed the district to put all elementary schools on a traditional calendar for the first time in decades.

“We welcome our students, parents and employees to this new school year with enthusiasm and sights set on achievement and graduation for all,” said board member Mónica García, who represents the area.

Two other schools marked a new beginning following their takeover under the “Parent Trigger” law. Weigand Elementary in South Los Angeles reopened with new leadership, and 24th Street Elementary in West Adams is now being operated as a converted charter by LAUSD and Crown Preparatory Academy.

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