Parents of students at Linwood Howe may be biting their nails regarding the possibility of losing a kindergarten class at the beloved neighborhood elementary school, but unfortunately, the official verdict won’t be ready for a while.
said in that there are enough enrolled students to fill only two kindergarten classes at Linwood Howe for the fall semester, but that numbers are pending due to the possibility of incoming permit students and new families to Culver City. Across the Culver City Unified School District's five elementary schools, 366 resident students are enrolled in kindergarten in the fall, with the possibility of another 34 permit students, she said.
But nothing will be final until Sept. 1. “At this time, there has been no determination as to which school, if any, will absorb the loss of an elementary class,” Board of Education President Scott Zeidman said at Tuesday's meeting.
Despite the administrative delay, concerns have been brewing in the community that Linwood Howe will be the one to get the axe. About 15 people spoke at the meeting to tell the school board members about what they see as an unfair cut to Linwood Howe’s three kindergarten classes. Board meetings in recent weeks have been characterized by parents and teachers decked out in yellow shirts to demonstrate their opposition to the Linwood Howe cuts. They have suggested instead that El Marino Language School's six kindergarten classes be reduced.
"I think the thing for us is we just want to get back to the equal playing field," Paul Walsleben of the Linwood E. Howe Boosters said in a .
"We're the school with the good kindergarten, so we put a lot of stock in that," said Walsleben, who has a kindergartener and a third-grader at Linwood. "We want more families to come to our school and love it like we do."
The loss of kindergarten students is a problem that extends past Linwood Howe’s doors. At Tuesday night’s board meeting, Drew Sotelo, the district's assistant director of child welfare and attendance, said that student permit approvals across CCUSD have dropped 65 percent since 2010. At this time last year, CCUSD had as many as 100 expected permit students, Jaffe said.
In addition, parents have expressed concern that residents are moving their kids to other school districts, a practice that decreases enrollment and thus the per-student funding that's allocated by the state.
“I’ve been personally hand-holding parents and bringing them to Linwood Howe," said Angela Dyborn, who has a first-grader at the school. "I would take fliers to preschools. We have a really strong parent base here.”
El Marino parent Dan O’Brien believes "parents should go door-to-door in their zone and recruit for their school. Go out and canvass your neighborhood. I think that’s where the battle is. We need to recruit kids away from the private schools like a football coach would recruit players.
“I don’t see a need to leave the school district. We’re keeping our kids in Culver City schools, and I’m sure our kids are going to a great college.”
As the school year ends and the dog days of summer begin, parents will be eagerly waiting to see the outcome of this kindergarten shuffle. However, an item will not be put on the board agenda for discussion until the school district has concrete enrollment numbers, Zeidman said.