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Kindergarten enrollment is on the rise in Pa.

April 16, 2006|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

In a room filled with stuffed bears, 4-year-old Taryn Cosey last week demonstrated her skills in identifying letters and numbers for Andrew McCrea, a psychologist for the Chambersburg Area School District.

Taryn is one of about 500 children who participated in central registration for kindergarten for 2006-07, but Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Services Catherine Dusman said the actual number of students entering that grade will not be known until after school opens.

Kindergarten enrollment in 2002-03 was 559, slipping to 557 the next year before edging up to 575 in 2004-05, according to district figures. In 2005-06, however, enrollment jumped to 644 as the boom in new-home construction led to a boom in the district's youngest students.

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"Our numbers are up right now, and we expect by August to see close to 700 kindergarten students," Dusman said.

While central registration ended Wednesday, another registration is scheduled for April 20 at Steven Elementary School for children who will attend schools in the borough, she said.

Still more are expected to register over the summer as families move into the district, and some new students will turn up on the first day of classes because their parents were "unaware of the processes and procedures," Dusman said.

The addition of 69 more kindergarten students resulted in the addition of more classrooms at the Scotland, Lurgan and Duffield schools, Dusman said. The district also added the equivalent of 3 1/2 elementary teaching positions during the year, and a minimum of five more will be added in 2006-07, she said.

Dusman said the district expects much of the growth next year to be in the areas served by Hamilton Heights, South Hamilton and Scotland elementary schools. Some relief will come in January 2007, when a new wing of classrooms opens at Hamilton Heights, she said.

The district also will open a new and larger Fayetteville Elementary School in 2007-08 and a new school at the site of U.L. Gordy Elementary School in 2008-09, according to district plans.

Central kindergarten registration was new this year in Chambersburg. In the past, students have registered at schools around the district, Dusman said. The assessment was added to give teachers an idea of the children's abilities before they enter the classroom in late August.

Chambersburg is not alone in experiencing growing pains.

The Greencastle-Antrim School District will hold kindergarten registration April 20-21 and April 24-25, but parents of 190 children had signed up to register on those days, said Greg Hoover, the district's director of elementary education.

"We had 150 signed up this time last year," said Hoover, adding that there are 197 in school now. If, as the trend indicates, the district adds another 40 students, that could require increasing the number of classes from 10 to 12, he said.

The district has the space to accommodate that growth now, Hoover said, but "that's another thing we're going to have to look at" if the trend continues.

Waynesboro Area School District had 297 kindergarten students in 2004-05, but enrollment spiked to 338 this year, according to district figures.

That district already held kindergarten registration and an estimated 330 have enrolled, said Bobbi Trostle, secretary to the superintendent. More are expected as people move in over the summer, or register when school opens, she said.

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