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School’s back, with gradual return to smaller classes

By From page A1 | August 28, 2014

FirstDay1W

María Martínez peeks into her kindergarten classroom Wednesday morning at César Chávez Elementary School. She and her classmates — some eager and some reluctant — were greeted by their teacher, Señora Águeda Gutiérrez. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

Parents have been asking the Davis school board for a return to smaller class sizes for several years. They got their wish on Wednesday, particularly in the primary grades, as the 2014-15 academic year got under way.

“I am happy to report that we are on track to meet our goal of class size reduction,” Superintendent Winfred Roberson told The Enterprise. “This year there is a 25-to-1 ratio in grades K-3, and 29-to-1 in grades 4-6. Our goal is to see a K-3 24-to-1 ratio by next school year.”

Roberson said he was “delighted” to welcome the about 8,600 new and returning students to the Davis schools. If those numbers hold up as enrollment figures stabilize during the first week or two of school, that would mean the school district could have about 100 more students than had been anticipated in enrollment projections.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a number of young families with children moved into town during the summer. School district staff reported to the Davis school board last Thursday that, as a result, the availability of seats in classrooms is “very, very tight” at some grade levels in some schools.

Roberson alluded to this in his comments to The Enterprise.

“With class size reduction, I have been asked whether (some) students will  be ‘overflowed’ to other sites,” he said. “Let me be clear. When enrollment exceeds space available at a specific site, we must ‘overflow’ new students to stay under state and district enrollment targets and to remain fiscally solvent.

“I understand that this can be very disruptive to families who are forced away from their neighborhood school,” Roberson continued. “That is why whenever a space in a neighborhood school becomes available, site staff will work to bring ‘overflowed’ students back to their neighborhood school as soon as possible, and we will highly prioritize any ‘overflowed’ students when we create classes for the 2015-16 school year.”

The first day of the new school year is always a hopeful, forward-looking time.

“Teachers, principals and all district employees are ready to launch a new and exciting chapter” in the lives and education of local students, Roberson said.

It was certainly a new chapter for kindergartners starting at César Chávez Elementary on Wednesday. Parent Christian Baldini, who grew up speaking Spanish in Argentina, was there with his 5-year-old son Dante. (Mother Matilda Hofman was taking younger son Lorenzo to day care.)

As young Dante waited for the kindergarten classroom door to open, he gave his father a hug, and looked around at other kids who will be his classmates.

“It seems like just a few hours ago when I held Dante as a newborn,” Baldini said. “Now he’s a real person — he has a will of his own. Time goes really fast.

“This is why we chose to live here,” Baldini said. “It will be great for him to be exposed to different kinds of Spanish.”

Also standing by the classroom door was parent Alejandrina Machuca, with daughter Abril, a second-grader, and son Erick, a third-grader.

“I might be shy — but I’m excited!” Abril said. “I have a new teacher and new classmates.”

Erick came to school with his gelled hair combed up into a fauxhawk, and smiled as he said, “I’m going to meet new friends.”

Parents Erin and Jeff Heiser were there as well, with daughter Whitney, who is entering kindergarten, and younger siblings Craig and Chelsea. “I’m excited for Whitney,” Erin said, “yet I feel like my baby is growing up. But she’s ready.”

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.

 

 

Jeff Hudson

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