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School Enrollment Shows a Decline

Low enrollment means some teachers are transferred to other schools or grade levels, causing dissatisfaction among other teachers and parents.

School Enrollment Shows a Decline School Enrollment Shows a Decline School Enrollment Shows a Decline

Enrollment is showing a decline for the 10th year but is better than administrators had anticipated. Assistant Superintendent David Ostermann gave a presentation to board of trustees at its Sept. 15 meeting.

Total enrollment in kindergarten through 12th grade is 6,140 students, as of Sept. 7. That’s 54 students higher than the projection for the 2011-12 school year, but 87 fewer students than last year’s enrollment.

The figures break down to: 2,978 in kindergarten through sixth grade; 931 in seventh and eighth grades; and 2,231 in ninth through 12th grades.

The elementary school enrollments are: 584 at ; 502 at ; 494 at ; 520 at ; 502 at ; and 352 at , in kindergarten through sixth grade.

At the next level, there are: 827 at ; 94 at Ramona Community School in seventh and eighth grades; 1,867 at ; 138 at ; 127 at Mountain Valley Academy; and 58 at .

The amount of money the district receives from the state for the average daily attendance (ADA) is based on the enrollment figures. The ADA provides the majority, or 70 percent, of the district’s operating revenue. ADA for the 2011-12 school year will be determined by enrollment figures on Oct. 5, when a report is due to the state.

Enrollment figures also determine staffing. If there are more or less students at a certain grade level than anticipated, it affects how many teachers are assigned to each school and at what grade level.

Donna Brave Romero, president of , told the board about a “very painful” experience for one of the teachers who was reassigned after the start of school.

Three teachers from Ramona Community School were reassigned: one to Barnett; one to Mount Woodson; and one to Ramona Elementary School. The first two transfers went smoothly, while the third “didn’t go well at all,” Romero said.

The three teachers volunteered for the transfers, following a meeting with Ramona Community School staff, Superintendent Robert Graeff and Assistant Superintendent Anne Staffieri when it became known the school would be losing three positions.

“This was not a gracious move; this was not an accepted move,” Romero said of the third reassignment, adding that she was disappointed with the way the Ramona Elementary School principal and staff handled the move that “started on a sour note.”

The teacher, Susan Nelson, was assigned a room when she arrived at her new school site. She spent Labor Day weekend getting the room ready for her students. When school resumed on the following Tuesday, Nelson was informed she would be moving to a different room because some of the other teachers were dissatisfied, Romero said.

Teachers and parents from Ramona Community School spoke out on Nelson’s behalf. Teacher Margaret Millen told the board that school was her “stable place where everything was going perfectly” until two weeks ago when the “unfortunate incident” happened, referring to the transfer of the teachers.

A parent became too emotional to continue speaking to the board, breaking out in tears as she shared her feelings about losing the teachers.

Another parent asked, “Why was the district so ill-prepared for planning this (in the) fall?” She went on to say the teachers assigned to Mountain Valley Academy are “unique,” and “cannot be replaced by just anyone with a credential.”

Mountain Valley Academy is an independent-study program for students in kindergarten through 12th grades, with the option of studying at home or attending classes two days a week at Ramona Community School.

Mountain Valley Academy “is the sole reason why we moved up the hill two years ago,” said a parent with two children in the program. “If it’s going to go down this road, we may have to reconsider home-schooling or another private school.”

Board President Rodger Dohm told the parents and teachers who spoke that the trustees “have heard you and we have listened.” He added his appreciation for those who attended the meeting and addressed the board.

In other reports, Betsy Bargo, president of the California State Employees Association, suggested to the board that it consider closing down the district for one month during the summer as a way to save on operating expenses. She also suggested some of the 12-month employees could switch to working 11 months.

“There are ways of streamlining the positions without affecting the children,” Bargo said.

The next meeting of the board of trustees is 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Wilson Administration Center, 720 Ninth St.

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