NEWMAN - The growing Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District enrollment continues to reach new highs.
Superintendent Randy Fillpot said Thursday that, three years into the new school year, the district had 3,221 students on its rolls - up about 45 from the previous year.
“We had budgeted to be up by 30 students, so we are encouraged by this,” Fillpot said.
The next two weeks or so will provide a more definitive snapshot of district enrollment, he noted, as some new students will continue to trickle in while others who do not show up for class will be purged from the rolls.
“Every day is up and down a little,” Fillpot stated. “It is going to fluctuate for the first couple of weeks.”
He said the district saw a number of new students register in the days immediately before the new school year started last Tuesday.
Staff members were processing 45 new arrivals the previous Friday, Fillpot said, and another 20 or so showed up to register during the first week of school.
The district is keeping a particularly close eye on TK-3 enrollment at Von Renner and Hurd Barrington elementary schools. Schools must maintain average class sizes under 24 pupils across those grade levels or risk losing substantial funding. Fillpot said the two sites, Von Renner in particular, are beginning to approach that cap.
A small number of students from those schools who live in the Hunt Elementary zone but were attending on intra-district transfers are being shifted back to Hunt, Fillpot said.
If need be, he added, the district will consider adding teaching staff to bring those class sizes below the cap. But, Fillpot said, he does not want the district to act hastily.
“Barrington last year went over 24 students for about a month but then went back down. Because it is an average over the year you have (flexibility). If you get to December and you have been over 24, you have a problem,” he explained.
Yolo (793 students) and Orestimba (954) both are at all-time enrollment highs, according to the superintendent.
“We do have a couple of class size issues at Yolo and Orestimba. They are not huge, but there are some in the mid-30s,” he explained. “We want to get them below 30 if at all possible.”
He said the district could add class sections by paying teachers an extra stipend to take a class on what would normally be their prep period.
The new school year was not without its challenges.
Fillpot said long lines on the first day of elementary parents with children in tow waiting to get visitor passes through the new Raptor system prompted site staff to temporarily rescind the new visitor policy in favor of getting students into the classroom in a timely manner.
“It got a little overwhelmed, which we understood was probably going to happen,” Fillpot remarked. “At the elementary schools where parents wanted to walk their child to the first day of class, we allowed that.”
Once a parent has presented an ID and is known to staff, he added, they can simply be logged in and issued a pass without going through the full process.
Fillpot said schools are still developing strategies for how the new visitor management system will be utilized when events bring large numbers of parents to campus.
“We were most worried about the first day and special events,” Fillpot stated. “During the course of a normal week we don’t have that many parents on campus.”
Parking at Orestimba was far from the norm. With the primary student lot torn up due to reconstruction, a variety of temporary parking venues were available to students and staff. The school had staff members out directing traffic to new drop-off areas and parking lots to help with the flow of vehicles.
And, the first week of school brought some unexpected challenges as well.
Von Renner Elementary was temporarily without water as crews raced to fix a broken line, and on Thursday Orestimba High was on lockdown for a time Thursday due to law enforcement activity by the sheriff’s department near campus.