After 200 additional kindergartners showed up unexpectedly on the first week of school last year, school officials have been pulling out all the stops to get 5-year-olds registered early this year.
With five weeks to go, kindergarten registrations are up, school officials said, but there are still many eligible children in the city who have not registered.
The school year starts Sept. 4 and every child who will be 5 by Dec. 1 should enter the kindergarten class.
At a glance
• Any student registering by Aug. 1 can do so at the Welcome Center at Ellis Hospital.
• On Aug. 5, registration will move to the Central Office at Mont Pleasant Middle School, 108 Education Drive.
School officials don’t want a repeat of last year, when they had to find classrooms and teachers for all the extra kindergartners after school had already started.
Superintendent Laurence Spring joked that he would avoid that mess this year by driving an ice cream truck through the city. Maybe that would entice children to register for school, he said.
Last year wasn’t the first time the district was hit with a sudden influx of kindergartners.
In 2009, the district had to hire more kindergarten teachers at the beginning of the school year and convert spaces at Howe Early Childhood Center to add several classrooms at the last minute.
In 2010, the district prepared for the same number of children, but 35 fewer children actually enrolled.
The population spiked again in 2011 and 2012, and the district is now running out of spaces it can convert into kindergarten classrooms.
That makes it even more important to register children — so that the district knows how many classrooms it will need.
Parents who registered in advance have already been invited to orientations at their child’s school, and have received letters from their kindergarten teacher.
Missing out on those letters doesn’t just mean the child will go to school without the right supplies on the first day. The letters are also intended to introduce each teacher to his or her students, breaking the ice before the stressful first day.
And teachers want to know who their students are, too. They make note of any special needs — from a learning disability to a food allergy.
Many teachers also spend the last few weeks of summer memorizing their new students’ names so that they can greet them on the first day.
District officials said parents who are hesitating because they are uncertain about how to register their children should call the central registration office to get their questions answered.