Officials cross fingers on kindergarten numbers

Officials cross fingers on kindergarten numbers
 
Date May 09, 2006
Section(s) Local News
Brief  
 
By MANDI LAMB

NDN Staff Writer

For the third consecutive year, the Newton school district has welcomed an encouraging number of incoming students during Kindergarten Roundup but school officials are keeping their fingers crossed in hopes that the numbers will hold steady over the summer.

Tom Hoover, director of educational services, presented final Kindergarten Roundup counts to school board members Monday night, indicating that enrollment numbers for the 2006-2007 school year are expected to surpass 300 once again, a curious jump from the 260 to 270 roundup children the district used to welcome.

“Our numbers have been up for the past several years, and this is slightly higher than last year,” Hoover said. “This is the third year, actually, of increasing numbers, which has us all kinda scratching our heads when considering all that’s been going on in our community lately. Yet our numbers keep increasing.”

Hoover said 222 students have been recommended for kindergarten and 40 for optional kindergarten. Of the 222 incoming kindergarten students, school officials recommended that 14 also participate in Jump Start, the district’s summer school program, which is scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 11.

Another 44 Kindergarten Roundup attendees are expected to participate in Jump Start and will receive a kindergarten or optional kindergarten recommendation when they’ve completed the summer program. Hoover said that, traditionally, about half of the students who do not receive a recommendation during roundup will be placed in kindergarten in the fall.

Newton administrators noted that while the 306 roundup attendees is promising, the actual kindergarten enrollment could change by the fall.

“It’s a little uncertain yet,” McDermott said. “Good numbers though. Hopeful.”

Hoover highlighted Maytag‘s purchase by Whirlpool as a factor of uncertainty when thinking in terms of school enrollment.

“It seems like everyone knows someone who is affected by Whirlpool … and may be leaving the community,” Hoover said. “Will that number remain or will it erode over the summer as folks make decisions relative to their job situations? That’s kinda the 64-dollar question right now. But we hope those numbers will stay, and we’ll have lots of kindergartners in the fall.”

On the brighter side, Hoover said that the district often sees a small increase in its enrollment toward the end of the summer as families relocate to the Newton area.

“Last August we had a real influx right before school, which pushed us over the 300 mark,” he said.

Since the district added additional kindergarten and optional kindergarten sections last year, Hoover said he believes the district currently has the staff to support 306 kindergarten students.

“We’re planning to serve 306 kindergarteners, and we’ll just have to see what the future holds in the next couple months.”

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