AUSD needs to give Kindergarten Parents more info

So kindergarten enrollment for 2009/10 is closed and the numbers are in and they are neither big enough or small enough to give certainty to parents of kindergarteners on the east end (Edison specifically, but also Otis). There are 78 applications for 60 current spots at Edison and 89 enrollments for 80 current spots (I believe, I’ll have to reconfirm that).

Last year at Edison, there were 65 enrollments, but come fall, only 60 kids attended, meaning there were no bumped children. The year prior, there were 92 enrollments, but only 80 attended, again, no bumps. Based on these numbers, one can’t make an accurate prediction of what is going to happen (though given the economy, I’d probably argue for less kids ditching AUSD for private school, but then again people may be moving out of the district). But pretending they are predictive they mean that between 6 and 10 kids will not turn up in the fall. So actual Edison enrollment is likely to be between 68 and 72.

From a policy standpoint, the district is strapped financially, and is unlikely to be adding classrooms at Edison unless the class is fairly full (they’ve said as much). If the enrollment rate at Otis ends up being similar to Edison, it’s possible that there are a couple of students who won’t fit into their classrooms also. Which means a total of 10-14 east end kids without classrooms.

Complicating the matter is that Edison has already squeezed one additional class in (two years ago) and the popular Girls Inc. after school care program might have to be bumped from their current space in order to find the room for a second additional class. This program offers a big help to the working parents who use it as it bridges the period of the day between the end of school and when parents get home.

Let’s face it, it’s ugly.

The district needs to identify its threshold for maintaining a class at Edison so that incoming parents have some idea as to what to expect next fall. The lottery for spots at Edison will be held shortly, so people will know whether they are “in” or not. If there are 10 additional kids, will the district “import” kids from other schools like Otis or Bay Farm where there were over-enrollments last year? The current decision is so vague as to not really say much more than what was known before the public statement was made.

The district is probably going to have to be flexible over the coming months and may not be able to make a final decision until August, when the actual enrollment numbers are known. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t put together scenarios that will give incoming parents some idea of what might happen. (plan a: 15 kids or more at Edison, add a class. Plan B: 10 Edison kids, plus X Otis and Bay Farm kids=add an Edison Class, Plan C: 8 Edison kids means no Edison class added, etc.)

Patience will be needed on all sides ….there’s nothing worse than hanging in limbo. That said, the district should let the 18 families who will be identified by lottery what is going to happen to their kids.