Additional students still registering in district after first week of classes


Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 12:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 12:05 p.m.

As usual, late registration is causing some hiccups for Alachua County Public Schools.

On Aug. 19, the first day of classes, the head count for public school students (not including charter schools or specialty programs such as the PACE Center for Girls) was 23,499, according to information provided by the district.

On Monday, the head count was at 25,118.

That’s a difference of 1,619 students that registered throughout the first week of classes, and parents will continue to register their children until Labor Day, Alachua County Public Schools spokeswoman Jackie Johnson said.

That number doesn’t include families who moved within the county over the summer and wait until the first week of school to register their children at new schools inside the school district.

“This is an issue every single year, everywhere,” Johnson said.

Getting extra students after school already has started results in a lot of scrambling on the district’s part.

The school district starts planning fall teacher allocations in the spring, said Karen Clarke, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instructional services and student support.

A large influx of students at any school during the first week could mean teachers getting shifted to different schools, classrooms not having enough textbooks and bus routes getting rearranged.

“That’s where it really becomes an issue,” Clarke said.

So far, she said the district has moved two teachers to different schools to accommodate students who registered late.

Clarke said the district is hiring a few more teachers this week, although she couldn’t say exactly how many.

Because of the class-size amendment, every 18th student in a grade between kindergarten and third represents one new teacher.

Extra students in the lower grades affect mixed grade-level classes, as well.

“They don’t all come in nice, neat packages of 18 students per grade level,” Clarke said.

Late-registered students also disrupt the curriculum during the first week, when teachers, particularly in elementary schools, often give base tests to gauge each of their students’ learning style and understanding of subjects.

Because the youngest students get attached to their teachers quickly and school open houses start right after Labor Day, she said the district is trying to hire and reallocate teachers as quickly as possible and “get the first day of school started with the new teachers.”

Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or erin.jester@gainesville.com.

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