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Kindergarten enrollment is surging

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Kindergartners at Bijou Community School rehearse Wednesday for a puppet show. The Lake Tahoe Unified School District is expecting an increase in kindergarten enrollment next school year.
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Bijou Community School Principal Karen Tinlin is ready for the tide of incoming kindergarten students next school year.

The school has 101 kindergarten students enrolled now. Coincidentally, the number is the same for pre-enrolled kindergartners for September. More are likely to be enrolled in the summer months as parents complete immunizations and paperwork for their children.

“We’re planning for it,” Tinlin said. “I have a room set aside for it.”



With the implementation of all-day kindergarten next school year with small class sizes at all four elementary sites, enrollment for the grade level has buoyed. The kindergarten class for the 2006-’07 school year has 280 students already enrolled, compared to 265 this year.

Superintendent Jim Tarwater expects the number to climb to 320 students.



“This is early. This is May,” he said.

The district has 10 kindergarten classes, but the additional students would bring the number to 14 with a possibility of reaching 16 total classrooms.

The Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School, Tahoe Valley and Sierra House are expecting to have three full kindergarten classes each. Bijou community expects to have five.

The increase of students has the district moving resources around. Three of four unused portable classrooms at the magnet school will be moved to Bijou with the other going to Sierra House. In addition, teachers could be hired to help fill the kindergarten demand.

Tahoe Valley Principal Mark Romagnolo said more than 60 students are registered for next year’s kindergarten class.

“That doesn’t include last-minute people,” he said. “We always get a ton of last-minute people.

“It’s a real healthy number,” Romagnolo added.

The kindergarten level is typically used as an indicator of how many students will be filtered through the district as they get older. Tarwater said most grade levels average about 300 students, with three exceptions. The tenth-grade level has 375 students while 367 students are in the ninth-grade.

The seventh-grade class has 342 students.

In March a deal was struck between the district and teachers union that ushered in all-day kindergarten for the 2006-07 school year. Classes will be capped at 20 students per teacher. Officials hope the program will help stem declining enrollment.

Helping to gauge elementary enrollment for next school year, surveys went out to parents at the four sites questioning whether they will return in the fall.

– E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com


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