Back to school

Campus tours were included in a student round-up held Monday at Orestimba High School as part of preparations for the new school year, which begins Tuesday, Aug. 13.  

NEWMAN - The Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District will welcome students back to the classroom Tuesday, Aug. 13, to start a new school year.

A number of changes are in store, said district Chief Business Official Caralyn Mendoza, including the adoption of a block schedule at Yolo Middle School and new security procedures for visitors at all school sites.

Mendoza said the district is projecting an opening enrollment of about 3,200 pupils, up 100 or so from the start of the previous school year but reflecting little if any growth from the year-end roll. District officials have indicated that they expect the steady enrollment growth of recent years to level off because housing projects in Newman and Diablo Grande are nearing build-out.

District officials will be closely monitoring enrollment and class sizes, particularly at the TK-3 grade levels which are capped at 24 students.

Von Renner is the elementary school bumping up most closely against that maximum class size average, Superintendent Randy Fillpot noted, and Hurd Barrington Elementary is also being watched. If class sizes exceed those averages, he said, one possible remedy is overflowing students to Hunt Elementary, where class sizes are currently smaller.

The district’s largest grade level is sixth-grade, which at last count had about 285 students.

As a result of that large class moving up through the ranks, an additional sixth-grade section was added at Yolo Middle School, while one less fifth-grade class will be housed at Von Renner this year.

Staffing

A number of additional staff positions were added this year - most of which involve support roles.

Hunt Elementary will have a learning director to assist its principal this year, the district added a psychologist and a mental health clinician, and the health staff was beefed up as well.

Each site this year will, at a minimum, have a full-time health clerk, according to Mendoza.

The district is also continuing its emphasis on better meeting the social-emotional needs of its students, she said. Many pupils face trying circumstances and hardship in their lives, officials have previously said, and better addressing their needs is essential to academic success.

“We don’t know what (burdens) they come to school with,” Mendoza said.

Visitor policy

The district is implementing a new visitor policy to enhance campus security.

The visitor management system requires visitors to present a driver’s license or other form of identification and be issued a photo identification badge. The system will check the visitor’s name and date of birth against a national data base of registered sex offenders, Mendoza said.

“No other data bases will be searched, and no information is shared,” she emphasized. “We have to be very clear in communicating that it will not be shared with other agencies.”

Mendoza said the new system is designed to enhance the safety of students and staff on campuses, and also helps track who is on campus in the event of an emergency situation.

The program is being provided by the Central Region School Insurance Group at no cost to the district, Mendoza said. “They thought it was important enough to provide this safeguard, and we are piloting it for them,” she explained.

Facility projects

The school year will open with several facility projects in progress.

Work has begun on a new classroom wing at Yolo Middle School. The construction area will be secured and construction access will be through an east gate to avoid interrupting the primary traffic flow. That construction project will continue through the school year. The new wing is expected to open in August 2020.

The new school year will open with Orestimba’s main parking lot undergoing reconstruction. A temporary parking plan utilizing the north parking lot and unpaved areas on campus will be implemented until that project is completed. Parents dropping off students will be asked to enter campus via Park Avenue, drop students off to enter through a stadium gate and then exit onto Orestimba Road.