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October 01, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, October 01, 2004

PUSD counting heads PUSD counting heads (October 01, 2004)

High schools swell, elementary and middle schools enrollment falls

by Teresa C. Brown

Although the count isn't official, the school district eyed an enrollment total at its board meeting Sept. 14 that was slightly higher than what was expected.

"Enrollment changes every day," cautioned Rich Puppione, the district's senior director of Pupil Services. But while enrollment continues to fluctuate, the district's enrollment projection "looked good," he said.

District-wide, including home-schooled, Pleasanton Unified School District has 14,227 students in its school system, an 188-student increase from the 2003 CBEDS, Puppione reported.

CBEDS (California Basic Educational Data System) is an annual tally school districts are required by law to report.

While the overall number is higher, the number of elementary and middle students is lower than last year's enrollment.

In elementary school, there are 27 fewer students than last year, and at middle school level, there are 24 less.

Those shortages are made up through high school enrollment, exceeding last year's CBEDS by 239 students.

Of the 4,779 high school students, more than 1,200 are incoming freshmen, said Puppione.

Having an increased high school population is not a surprise. Board President Gloria Fredette said the district has been aware of an enrollment "bubble," several grades with a larger-than-average student population, moving through the school system.

The bubble raised concerns. Trustee Kris Weaver questioned what was being done to support the increased number of students at high school level, with Amador having 2,322 and Foothill at 2,255.

"As we look at high school numbers, we are reminded that this board didn't want maximum capacity at the high schools," Weaver said.

"What are we doing to support those large numbers?" she asked, "And are there additional things we can do?"

Superintendent John Casey responded, "We did talk to the principals last spring about the things they might need." He explained that the district assisted principals with the requests such as tables, parking, student supervision and labs.

He added that it may still be an issue as current seventh- and eighth-graders prepare to enter high school, further swelling the enrollment numbers.

Staffing was also a concern. "We're still OK in terms of staffing," Casey said. He acknowledged that while the district is overstaffed because of the lower than expected enrollment at middle- and grade-school level, the district was "still within reasonable range of staff."

He explained that the district had been watching enrollment throughout the summer and anticipated how many students were expected to attend before hiring the staff to meet the projected numbers.

"We expected more enrollment," Puppione said, explaining that the district had expected to have a full kindergarten, but ended up having 30 empty seats.

Puppione also reminded the board that housing developments, such as the one on Bernal Avenue, will likely increase enrollment. He told the board that they have tried to contact incoming families and ask them to enroll their children now.

Casey reported that the district plans to review in January a demographer's report, which includes community demographic information the district considers when projecting enrollment.
PUSD enrollment reported Sept. 14 (numbers change from day to day)

Alisal 650 Donlon 685 Fairlands 611 Hearst 687 Lydiksen 680 Mohr 656 Valley View 674 Vintage Hills 629 Walnut Grove 704 Hart 1,165 Harvest Park 1,051 Pleasanton 1,214 Amador Valley 2,322 Foothill 2,255 Village 153 Elementary home school 18 Middle home school, Opportunity 24 Horizon and Independent Study 49

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