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Kindergarteners fill classes across the county

Student enrollment is up in most districts countywide, and most school officials are attributing the increase to a higher-than-projected number of kindergartners.

The Ashland School District grew by about 120 students. Samuel Bogdanove, director of student services, attributed the increase to full-day kindergarten, the district’s open inter-district policy — 98 more students transferred to Ashland this year from neighboring districts — and the improving economy, which made it possible for more kids to live in town.

The district had to add seven teachers at the elementary level and two at the high-school level, Bogdanove said.

Although the Phoenix-Talent School District had about 15 more kindergartners than it had projected, the district’s total enrollment dropped as a result of 130 students moving outside the district, which is unheard of, said Superintendent Teresa Sayre.

It was fortunate that 120 students moved into the district to fill most of those empty seats, she said.

And there were enough kindergartners to justify adding an additional teacher at the district's Orchard Hill Elementary School.

In Medford, nearly 1,100 kindergartners showed up Monday for the 10th day of school — about 118 more than were planned for by the school district.

“I think all-day kindergarten has gone over better than we thought,” said Medford schools Superintendent Brian Shumate.

School districts typically project in the winter for the next fall’s enrollment. The projections are based on trends and are necessary for budget planning, Shumate explained. However, kindergartners are always a “wildcard,” because they aren’t in the system yet, he added.

The Medford School District added 16 teaching positions before the school year began in an effort to reduce classroom sizes and has since had to hire six additional teachers to meet the kindergarten need and because of increased enrollment at the elementary level.