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Back-to-school time for the Santa Clarita Valley

Posted: August 8, 2009 9:03 p.m.
Updated: August 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Students at McGrath Elementary School get ready for their first day of school.

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Summer will officially be over for more than 50,000 kindergarten-through-high school students this month when Santa Clarita Valley schools open their classrooms and start issuing homework assignments for the 2009-10 school year.

Saugus Union School District
Saugus Union School District will open its doors to about 10,500 students, Superintendent Judy Fish said.

The figure comes as the district has seen a slow decline in enrollment over the last four years as growth in the Santa Clarita Valley remains sluggish.

Saugus Union has eliminated school bus routes for general-education students. It is preparing advisories for parents about increases in traffic around its schools.

“Be patient with one another,” Fish asked, “and if (parents) received any information from the school that might address the whole issue of traffic flow, be sure to read it.”

Class sizes for kindergarten through third grade will range from 20 to 23 students. Saugus Union School District starts  on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Newhall School District
Only McGrath Elementary School starts Tuesday, Aug. 11. All other Newhall School District schools begin Wednesday, Aug. 12.

Newhall School District anticipates slightly more than 7,000 students.

“We’ve been very stable” in terms of enrollment, said Superintendent Marc Winger.

Except for McGrath and Wiley Canyon elementary schools, all kindergarten classes in the Newhall School District will have two teachers for 30 students.

McGrath and Wiley Canyon will have one teacher for 22 students.

All third-grade classes will have 24 students, while first- and second-grade classes will have 22 students.

Winger recommends parents remain patient until the drop-off and pick-up systems for children are put into place.

Winger also advises parents to deliver their youngsters to a safe place near the school.

“Don’t endanger your own student by dropping him off across the street and crossing a busy residential street,” Winger said.

Kids should get a good night’s sleep before school starts and eat a balanced breakfast, he said.

Newhall School District starts on Tuesday, Aug. 11, and Wednesday, Aug. 12.

Sulphur Springs School District

About 5,700 students are expected to attend Sulphur Springs School District, a slight increase of 20 to 30 students from the previous year, Superintendent Robert Nolet said.

Sulphur Springs is one of three local school districts that have cut back on school transportation for students.

“We want to try and work with parents as much as possible to mitigate the fact that we are going to have to cut back on our services,” he said.

The district encourages families to carpool and walk their students to school.

As part of budget reductions, class sizes for kindergarten and third grade will be increased from 20 to 24 students.

Sulphur Springs School District starts on Thursday, Aug. 13.

Castaic Union School District

Castaic Union School District expects to see about 3,280 K-8 students on the first day of school, said Superintendent James Gibson.

The number is down by about 20 students from the previous school year, he said.

With the elimination of some bus routes, Castaic Union is encouraging parents to carpool.

The district is also working with the city of Santa Clarita to offer morning bus service for Castaic Middle School and Castaic Elementary School students at the city transit Hillcrest Parkway bus stop, Gibson said.

Class sizes will increase slightly at Castaic Union schools.

Kindergarten-through-third-grade classes will increase from 20 to 21 or 22 students, he said.

The average class size for fourth- through eighth-grade classes will increase by one, making the average class size 31 students, he said.

Castaic Union School District starts on Thursday, Aug. 13.

William S. Hart Union High School District
About 23,070 junior high and high school students will attend William S. Hart Union High School District during the upcoming school year.

With the new year comes new schedules and schools, which often create traffic jams near schools.

“It’s just the nature of parenting today, and most of the parents intend to drive their kids to school,” said Hart district spokeswoman Pat Willett.

When schools are close together, as Rancho Pico Junior High School and West Ranch High School, the district staggers start times to relieve as much traffic as possible, Willett said.

Some schools, like Placerita Junior High School, have redesigned drop-off and pick-up zones in parking lots.

“There will still be a lot of traffic,” Willett said. “We encourage people to carpool. We encourage them to walk to school.”

The incoming seventh-graders at Rio Norte Junior High School will be getting a special welcome from the student group Welcoming In Newcomers and Giving Support (WINGS).

Each year, WINGS students participate in a phone-a-thon, during which student counselors and parents call about 700 incoming students in two days with a special message.

“They call every incoming seventh-grader that they can reach and welcome them to the school,” Willett said.

With registration held before the start of school, Hart district students are advised to come to school prepared and ready to learn.

“We start instruction that very first day,” Willett said.

William S. Hart Union High School District starts on Thursday, Aug. 13.

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