The Central Valley School District saw more students enter its doors than expected on the first day last week.
Monday – the fourth day of school – was the first official day to report enrollment numbers to the state. Superintendent Ben Small said they were seeing pre-recession enrollment numbers, but warned against getting too excited about that just yet.
“One year does not make a trend,” he said. “I don’t know that the economy has finally turned.”
At the district’s school board meeting Monday night, Finance Director Jan Hutton said the district had 275 more full-time students enrolled than at this time last year.
Elementary schools and middle schools have been affected the most by the influx.
Tim Nootenboom, executive director of elementary learning and teaching, said that in recent years the east side of the district has seen growth, but this year both sides of the district have been affected.
He said at the elementary level, 150 students were moved to other schools. District officials dealt with the extra students by repurposing classrooms and adding two and a half teaching positions at the elementary level across the district.
Nootenboom said district officials waited until the Thursday before school started to start making decisions about staffing and where students would go to be less disruptive to the students and staff. He said this was fortunate, because they saw growth in places they didn’t expect.
At McDonald Elementary, where enrollment has remained steady in recent years, they added a kindergarten section in expectation of receiving overflow students, but ended up with 14 extra kindergarten students of their own.
He said the staff has been flexible in dealing with the extra students and noted Jeff Dufresne, principal at Adams Elementary, personally called new families.
“Our building leaders and teachers did a really good job of welcoming families to our district,” Nootenboom said.
Kent Martin, executive director of secondary learning and teaching, said that while Greenacres and Evergreen middle schools have traditionally been crowded at the beginning of the year, now they were seeing growth at the other middle schools.
At North Pines, there were sixth-graders sent to Bowdish, and from Bowdish, seventh-graders were sent to North Pines.
At Horizon, they added one teacher for sixth and seventh grade. There also were 16 students who expressed interest in that middle school who will be called soon.
Martin said at the high schools, enrollment is up and they have enough staff. So far this year, Central Valley High School has an enrollment of 1,860 students and University has 1,580. Barker has 209 students throughout its many programs, 20 students more than last year at this time.