School census continues upward trend
Open enrollment provision adds pupils to Gaston classrooms
The Gaston School District welcomed more students than expected in September.
Typically, Gaston Elementary enrolls about 240 students, but this year the school welcomed 260. Its the second increase in a row after years of flat or declining enrollment.
The Gaston schools turnaround is partly due to the open-enrollment law passed in 2011 by the Oregon Legislature. The law allows students to leave their home districts and attend other districts if their applications there are accepted.
Last year, the district enrolled 480 students; this year it has 525.
Gaston Elementary added one new teaching position a kindergarten and technology teacher. The school is also welcoming new teachers to a first/second-grade classroom, two third/fourth-grade classrooms and one fifth/sixth-grade classroom.
Hiring Kristy Koopman as a kindergarten teacher made it possible to split the 34 students into two groups of 17. But Principal Yvonne Rauch said she had hoped not to have to hire any others after a first/second-grade teacher retired last year.
Then, nearly 60 students showed up when school opened in September, and it became clear two teachers were not enough, Rauch said. So a week into the school year, teacher Jennifer Hovda joined the first/second-grade team, creating two classes of 20 and one of 19.
Rauch said the larger student body can be attributed to open enrollment which currently accounts for 17 percent of Gaston students, including eight new first- and second-graders as well as a few families moving into town.
Research has shown small class sizes are imperative to academic development in kindergarten, as well as first and second grade, Rauch said, so keeping classes small is one of the main goals in Gaston.
The positions are funded with federal Title 1 and open enrollment money, Rauch said.Add a comment