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Schools At Capacity In San Ramon

Enrollment of 500 new students–more than expected–sets off flurry of transfers as schools quickly fill up.

A sudden influx of new students over the summer has school principals in San Ramon scrambling to find classrooms to house them.

Hundreds of students, mostly elementary school pupils, are being transferred from overcrowded schools to campuses that aren't quite as full.

"Our philosophy is neighborhood schools," said Terry Koehne, spokesman for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. "We're trying to do that, but we're having to divert students simply because we have no place to put them."

The district's projected enrollment for the fall semester has risen from 28,200 in June to 28,700 on the first day of school Monday.

That's because 500 new students were enrolled over the summer.

Most of them are from the Quail Run and Windemere Ranch subdivisions in east San Ramon. New students have flocked to the elementary schools that serve that region and the dominoes have started to fall.

Live Oak Elementary School now has 1,075 students, up from the June projection of 1,032. The classrooms there are at capaticy.

Hidden Hills Elementary School now has an enrollment of 1,063 students, up from the June estimate of 939. That campus also doesn't have any empty desks.

During the past couple weeks, the surplus students from those two schools have been transferred to two other nearby campuses.

Quail Run has absorbed a lot of them. That elementary school now has 971 enrolled students, up from the June projection of 895. Second-grade classrooms there are completely packed and other grade levels are filling up quickly.

Coyote Creek Elementary School is getting its share of spillover. That campus now has 979 students, up from June projections of 942.

If those two schools fill up, the next option is to send students to Creekside Elementary School in Danville, where the projected enrollment has already risen to 478.

Ken Nelson, principal at Hidden Hills, said his school has diverted 101 students so far, most of them sent to Quail Run.

Like most schools in the district, Hidden Hills has upped its class size in the primary grades. The kindergarten through third-grade classrooms will have 26 students each this fall. Fourth and fifth grades will remain at about 30.

The school also has added one fifth-grade class and one fourth-through-fifth-grade combination class. The school has 45 teachers and they will be busier than ever this year.

Nonetheless, Nelson, who is in his first year as principal at Hidden Hills, said the school is up for the challenge.

"We're excited about the opportunity," he said. "This is a great school and we should be able to handle it."

Beyond the sheer numbers, there are some details to iron out. Details like coordinating family schedules and making sure siblings are placed in the same school have kept district attendance officials busy. They were notifying parents on Friday and over the weekend.

"They're working at the speed of light over there," said Koehne.

The upper grades are also feeling the pinch.

Iron Horse Middle School had a projected enrollment of 951 in June. Pine Valley Middle School was expecting 917 students.  Windemere Ranch Middle School was expecting an enrollment of 839.

California High School has the most students of any campus, with a projection of about 2,400. Dougherty Valley High School expected 1,500 students.

Though it's an added burden in terms of management, extra students do bring in more revenue.

Koehne estimates the additional 500 students will translate into $2.5 million in extra state funds this year. There are, of course, additional expenses to serve all those students.

The influx of students has allowed the district to hire back all the teachers who were given layoff notices last spring. The district has also hired some of last year's temporary teachers as well as a few new ones.

Koehne said the district is dealing with the flood of new students this year, but they will have to look at long-term solutions because developers are still building new homes in east San Ramon and new, young families are moving into houses throughout the district.

There aren't funds to build new campuses, so the school board may have to consider alternatives such as year-round schools with alternating tracks.

"We're going to have to start having some difficult conversations," Koehne said. "We're going to have to figure out how to deal with this capacity issue."

Mike August 24, 2010 at 02:13 AM
Please find below Goldenview Elementary's 2010 scores: Scale: % at or above proficient Grade 2 English Language Arts 70% (2010) 88% (2009) 88% (2008) 74% (2007) The state average for English Language Arts was 54% in 2010. Math 80% (2010) 94% (2009) 96% (2008) 80% (2007) The state average for Math was 62% in 2010. Source: CA Dept. of Education, 2009-2010 Grade 3 English Language Arts 72% (2010) 81% (2009) 74% (2008) 69% (2007) The state average for English Language Arts was 44% in 2010. Math 80% (2010) 94% (2009) 83% (2008) 83% (2007) The state average for Math was 65% in 2010. We are at 2007 level, wiping away all three years' improvement. The incompetence of the executive team is costing us not only real estate value but also educational gap in our kids.
Phil Hayworth August 28, 2010 at 05:03 PM
Parents, teachers of the San Ramon School District, I'm looking at how school transfers due to overcrowding have affected things like drive time, new school blues/joys, leaving friends, no longer the "neighborhood school," etc. Please email me and weigh in or if you know someone who has had to deal with it, email me and tell me how it went. Thanks. PH phhay@yahoo.com

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