Better late than never.

At least that was the general consensus in the Northern Lehigh School District, where students returned for the first day of classes on Wednesday, two days after the school year was to have started.

Classes were initially supposed to start on Monday, but didn't because several portions of the district were without power, thanks to Hurricane Irene, said Superintendent Michael Michaels.

"The Slatington campus had power, but Peters did not, and our citizens, many more did not have power than did," Michaels said. "I was afraid if we started school too soon, it would have been an inconvenience to the parents, and especially the elementary kids."

While it would have been nice to have been able to start school earlier, Michaels said the district is grateful it will be able to get two days in before the Labor Day holiday.

"We wish we could have gotten school started sooner, but we're thrilled we got started today," he said. "The kids will have a nice four days off, then they're into a nice five-day schedule, which will give the kids a chance to slowly get acclimated to the school system again, and I think that's very positive for the kids."

As for the first day itself, Michaels said it marked the best start in his 20-plus years.

"In all my years in administration, this has been the best opening we ever had," he said. "Watching the kids come, their excitement of going into a new environment here in Slatington, a new environment at the high school with a new principal and assistant principal."

Michaels said there were "many more positives than negatives."

"This was the least number of bus concerns compared to other years, the buildings were ready to go, and there were no power issues, no technology issues," he said. "Everything is checked out and good and running."