Published: Aug 07, 2012 6:44 AM EDT
Updated: Aug 07, 2012 1:06 PM EDT

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - The 2012-2013 school year is back in session as students in the Charlotte County School District are the first in the state to head back to class.  Only seven school districts, including Lee County, are returning this week. Years of consistently being considered a "high performing" district allow Charlotte the opportunity to be first in the state.

About 15,000 students will return to 18 schools across the district.  The first bell for the three high schools rings at 7:25 a.m. to start the year, while the middle schools don't get going until 9:25 a.m.

Bussing for students begin pickups just after 5:00 a.m. and then dropoffs after school stretch into the early evening, wrapping up a little after 5:00 p.m.