Tight staffing, rising registration leaves few open desks at elementary schools

By From page A1 | August 19, 2011

Davis school enrollment may be up slightly when classes begin Tuesday and several elementary schools are full at some grade levels, according to a report on back-to-school preparations presented to the school board Thursday night.

Associate Superintendent Clark Bryant handled the portion of the report covering the district’s elementary schools. With the district leanly staffed across the board due to budget reductions over the past three years, “We are extremely tight in our enrollment, with just over 120 seats available (in grades K-6) district-wide,” Bryant said.

He added that at the moment, the district is preparing for around 4,330 elementary students — which would be an increase of around 60 students over this point last year.

“It appears that we have families with new students moving into the area,” Bryant said. “Our enrollment is fluctuating by the hour” as new arrivals come in to register their children.

Breaking down the elementary school enrollment, Bryant said that Patwin has about 460 students on the roster, Willett has about 530, North Davis has about 560, Korematsu has about 526, Birch Lane has about 622, Pioneer has about 507, Montgomery has about 410, and Chávez has about 640. Rural Fairfield Elementary, which has two classrooms, is expecting 60 students.

Da Vinci Charter Academy anticipates 85 more students this fall. Most of this increase stems from the addition of two seventh-grade classes totaling 66 students in Da Vinci’s junior high program at the Emerson Junior High campus. Director of Student Services Pam Mari told the trustees that in practical terms, the Da Vinci program — which will have about 135 junior high students at Emerson and about 308 high school students at the Valley Oak campus — is “reaching the limit of what is functional as a small learning community.”

The district is also expecting about 735 students at Harper Junior High and 718 students at Holmes Junior High. Emerson is projected to host about 443 students in the regular program, plus 135 in Da Vinci’s junior high program, for a total of around 578 students.

Davis High School is anticipating around 1,717 students as the new school year begins.

All told, the Davis school district will probably have a little over 8,700 students for 2011-12.

Of course, the Davis school district won’t know for sure how many students it actually has until classes begin Tuesday. There are always some families that leave town over the summer, without informing the school that their children will not be coming back in the fall. And there are always a few newly arrived families that show up on the first day of school.

Mari said that the school district has accepted only 35 new interdistrict transfer students (from outside the district) this year. Only seven  of those new transfer students are at the elementary level, and none are at Davis High. The bulk of the new transfers — 28 students — are at the junior high level.

This is in contrast to recent years, when the Davis district has sometimes accepted 100 or more new out-of-district students — typically the children of teachers working in the Davis district, or employees at UC Davis or another Davis employer, who want their child to attend a school close to their workplace. Mari said there are another 88 out-of-district students on a waiting list, mostly at the elementary level. The Davis district has 351 continuing transfer students from out-of-district.

There are also 134 students living in the Davis district who have been granted intradistrict transfers so that they can attend a school within the district somewhere other than the school that serves the neighborhood where they reside. About 110 of these transfer students within the district are at the junior high level.

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

Jeff Hudson

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