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August 15, 2014

More than 57,500 county students will head back to school for fall semester

School districts implementing new instructional practices and computer technology

Summer vacation is over in Merced County, with more than 57,500 students due back in classes by Monday. All of the 20 school districts in the county are adopting state-mandated Common Core instructional practices and a number of them are adding computer technology to the curriculum.

In an unofficial enrollment tally, it appears student attendance is up modestly in Livingston, Los Banos, Dos Palos, McSwain, Planada, Winton and Delhi areas.

Stable enrollment figures between this fall and last spring are being reported for Merced City, El Nido and Hilmar school districts, with slight declines noted for Atwater, Le Grand elementary and high schools and the Merced Union High School District.

School district representatives were asked about their starting-ending dates, enrollment figures, the number of certificated and classified employees, any new programs and a 2014-15 budget total.

Atwater Elementary School District

School in Atwater begins Monday and ends June 5, with 4,719 students, 21 fewer than last spring. The district’s 2014-15 budget totals just more than $40 million.

The district has about 500 employees and has added certificated (teaching) staff due to additional instructional coaches in English language arts, math, literacy and technology.

New programs include a reading intervention program and the district is applying to be part of the International Baccalaureate Middle School program.

Ballico-Cressey School District

Classes in the Ballico-Cressey School District began Wednesday and the school year ends June 3. The district has 352 pupils, about the same as last spring.

There are 18 teachers, five full-time and eight part-time classified employees. The district is operating on a $2.9 million budget for the current school year.

Delhi Unified School District

Classes started Aug. 7 in the Delhi Unified School District, with 2,606 students, up 10 students from the last school year. Delhi has 133 certificated staff members and 146 classified employees, operating on a $25 million budget.

Delhi kicked off the year with deployment of 700 Chromebooks for high school students. The technology supports this year’s Common Core implementation and 21st-century teaching and learning focus.

Dos Palos-Oro Loma Unified School District

Dos Palos students returned to classes Thursday and will end their year on June 5; about 2,347 students were anticipated, about 50 more than last spring. Nine more teachers were hired for kindergarten through high school, as well as additional grounds, maintenance, custodial, paraprofessional and cafeteria personnel.

The Dos Palos district’s budget is $23.58 million. Physical education is being restored in the elementary grades and new intervention (improvement) programs are being added. A brand-new, 14,000-square-foot agriculture shop is occupied and a new wood and auto shop are almost ready.

A medical services pathway has been added to the district’s Career Technical Education Program.

El Nido Elementary School District

Classes began Thursday and June 5 winds up the new school year. El Nido enrollment remains stable at 185 students. Staffing also remains stable with 10 certificated and 11 classified employees.

The district is continuing to offer enrichment and tutoring classes as part of an after-school program, which includes music, drama and art. The district’s 2014-15 working budget is about $1.4 million.

Gustine Unified School District

Classes in Gustine began Thursday and will end June 5. The district expects a 3 percent jump in enrollment; there were 1,825 students from kindergarten through high school last spring. The district has an operating budget of more than $15.8 million.

There are 220 certificated and classified employees this fall. The district created nine new positions, seven of them teachers and two counselors, from added state funding. Smaller-sized classes are planned along with more services to students this year.

Read 180 and Math 180 intervention programs are being added and academic coaches will work with students not meeting grade level standards. A full-time college and career counselor will assist students in selecting and applying to colleges as well as the work world.

A counselor with a background in marriage and family therapy will be working with middle school and high school students this year to serve students with social, emotional and attendance issues.

Hilmar Unified School District

In the Hilmar Unified School District, classes began Thursday and will end June 5; 2,742 students are enrolled for the fall, 48 fewer than in June.

There are about 250 Hilmar school employees, eight more than for the last school year. Full implementation of Common Core is expected this year and a K-8 writing program called “Writing by Design” is being added. The district’s 2014-15 budget is almost $23 million.

Le Grand Elementary School District

The Le Grand Elementary School District began the school year Aug. 7 and will end on June 5; there are 392 students, down 22 from last year. The district’s 2014-15 budget is $3.5 million.

Faculty remains the same at 19 but total staff increased from 60 to 65; most of the new positions are clinician and instructional support for math and reading. Seventh- and eighth-grade students have a mix of Chromebooks and iPads to support technology integrated into the Common Core curriculum.

For kindergarten through sixth grade, there is one computer device for every two students. Increased levels of staff development are planned as teachers refine Common Core instructional practices and integrate technology into those practices.

Le Grand Union High School District

Le Grand High School classes began Aug. 7 and the year ends May 29. There are 499 students, 15 fewer than last spring. Staffing has remained the same with classified employees. There are 25 teachers and 40 classified employees, with one math teacher added this fall.

The district has started a medical academy with 25 ninth-graders, cooperating with a number of higher education institutions in the area. The district’s budget is $5.7 million.

Livingston Union School District

School began Aug. 12 for Livingston and the year will end June 3; the district has 2,537 students, 20 more than last spring.

There are 1291/2 teachers, 15 more than last year, and 157 classified employees, up 12 from last spring. The district’s budget is $19.2 million.

The district is focusing on closing the achievement gap, with academic interventions planned for kindergarten through third grade, along with English language learners. Increased enrichment opportunities in technology and the arts are planned.

The district is in the first of three years of implementing 1:1 use of mobile computer devices in lieu of textbooks. Innovation in classroom communications, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity are being promoted this year, along with increased professional development opportunities.

Los Banos Unified School District

Secondary school classes began Wednesday in Los Banos and elementary school sessions started Thursday. Secondary school classes end June 4 and elementary schools the following day.

Preliminary enrollment figures show 10,083 students, up 150 from last year. The district’s budget is $81 million.

New this fall are culinary arts at Pacheco High School, additional staffing in nursing services, piloting of the use of Chromebooks in secondary classrooms and expansion of iPad use in elementary classrooms.

McSwain Union Elementary School District

McSwain School classes begin Monday and the year ends June 3; 857 students are enrolled for fall, one fewer than last spring. The district has 95 faculty and staff members, three more than last spring.

The McSwain district’s budget for 2014-15 is $6.6 million.

Merced City School District

Classes begin Monday in Merced. Kindergarten through eighth grade is projected to be about the same with 10,577 students enrolled, not including preschool. The district’s general fund budget is $92 million.

The district has 567 teaching-administrative employees, 50 of them part time. There are 483 classified or nonteaching employees, 189 of them part time.

The district has increased the number of certificated staff by seven to meet new state requirements, including a teacher-student ratio of 24:1 for transitional kindergarten through third grade. Three more full-time instructional assistants and 10 part-time instructional assistants have been added, along with eight application technicians to assist with new classroom technology.

New fall programs include 21st century learning application of technology with Common Core state standards, with 1:1 computer devices in all third- through eighth-grade classrooms. After-school enrichment with arts, music, science, technology engineering and mathematics is being added.

Merced River Union Elementary School District

Merced River classes begin Monday, with 153 students anticipated, three more than last spring. There are nine classified staff members serving Hopeton and Washington schools, down one from the last school year.

There are eight teachers serving Hopeton and Washington schools, down two from the last school year. The district’s budget is $1.5 million.

New in 2014-15 are small class sizes, project-based learning and STEM concepts, a support program for English language development, technology ties to Common Core, transitional kindergarten and all-day kindergarten, sports programs and curriculum-related field trips.

Merced Union High School District

Classes begin Monday for high schools in Merced, Atwater and Livingston and end June 4. About 10,031 students are expected, 39 fewer than last spring. The district has 489 certificated employees and 420 classified workers, about the same as last year.

Because of Common Core implementation at all sites and 1:1 Chromebook use at four high schools, the district is concentrating on improving and perfecting current programs rather than adding new programs.

The district’s 2014-15 budget is $95.6 million.

Plainsburg Union Elementary School District

School began Thursday in Plainsburg and will end June 4; there are 128 students enrolled now, four students more than last spring. The district has six teachers and seven support staff members, one less teacher and one extra aide.

The district’s 2014-15 budget is $892,000; Common Core standards have been implemented into the classroom curriculum.

Planada School District

Planada classes begin Monday and the year ends June 11; enrollment is 775 students, up 25 from last spring. The district has 50 teachers, four more than last year, and 40 classified workers, up three from last year.

A new professional development program, Synced Solution, is being implemented. Google Apps for Education are being added, along with structured physical education for kindergarten through fifth grade, Positive Behavior Intervention Support and a junior doctor’s academy at the middle school.

The district’s total operating budget is $7.8 million.

Snelling-Merced Falls School District

Classes begin Monday and wind up the year June 4; 96 students are expected, the same as last year.

New this year is the use of Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks for second- through eighth-graders. A new technology coordinator has been hired.

Weaver Union School District

Classes began July 24 and the ending date is June 5.

Weaver has 2,742 students, 48 fewer than in June. There are about 250 employees, eight more than last year.

Full implementation of Common Core at all grades is planned this fall along with the addition of a K-8 Writing program called “Writing By Design.”

Weaver’s budget is $23 million.

Winton Elementary School District

School begins Monday in Winton and ends June 4; 1,906 students are expected, up 22 from last year. The district has 95 certificated employees and 105 classified employees. There are six more teachers and 14 more classified workers this year.

The district has hired three literacy coaches, added a school resource officer, 11 instructional aides and held summer school for the first time in nine years. Improved lighting and security have been added at all campuses. In October, there will be wireless capabilities districtwide, with students using Chromebooks in their classrooms.

The district’s general fund budget is $17.2 million.

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