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Bowman still pruning student list

Overenrollment pushes out 25 families, but others still in limbo
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Officials at Bowman School have already made their first round of cuts, but a number of local parents are still waiting to hear whether or not their child will make it onto the school’s enrollment list. About 25 parents already know their child will most likely not attend the school this fall. An estimated 60 families total are expected to receive the same letters by the first day of school, according to Marilyn Gilbert, superintendent/principal of Bowman School. She said those numbers are not exclusively of former Alta Vista students. “We’re trying very much to accommodate everyone,” Gilbert said. “I just want to let people know yes or no so it lets kids know where they’ll be.” Gilbert said officials are working hard to speed up a lengthy process so those families can pursue alternate plans as soon as possible. She released the first round of decisions earlier than normal. She expects another round to be complete in August. “If we could take them all we would, but we don’t have the space,” Gilbert said. “The least we can do is try to let them in as timely a fashion as possible.” The school has seen an increase in applications for students to attend Bowman since the closure of Alta Vista School, according to Gilbert. In past years, there are about 10 to 15 students on a waiting list for any given grade levels. This year that number bumped up to about 15 to 20 Gilbert said. She added that the numbers are rough estimates of the actual waiting list. “We know it’s more,” Gilbert said. “You feel that it’s more. You know you’re dealing with bigger numbers.” She explained that “no” letters have been sent to those families at the bottom of the waiting list. “We don’t want them waiting to hear from us that there is a spot when we’re pretty confident that we’re not going to get down that far on the list,” Gilbert said. Michele Schuetz, Auburn Union Elementary School District superintendent, said the numbers are still “fluid.” She said she and Gilbert are communicating figures to each other. Both said they wouldn’t have solid numbers about where students are distributed until the first day of school. Gilbert said the school would only take in the number of students it can accommodate. She added that the school did open up a third, third-grade class this year. That opening was scheduled to happen next year because the school has gradually added a third class of students beginning with a kindergarten class three years ago. School officials decided to start it a year earlier to allow more students to attend Bowman. Gilbert said the district has and will remain fiscally solvent despite the influx of students. The increase in enrollment in the third grade will warrant hiring an additional teacher. Otherwise, Gilbert said, the district will continue with making fiscally conservative decisions. Julann Brown, an Auburn resident, said it was an easy decision to enroll her youngest son into Bowman School. Her son finished the third grade at Alta Vista this year. “He had a big cry on the last day of school,” Brown said. “He didn’t want to leave.” Brown said she signed up in January on the first day parents were allowed to put their names on a list. She received the green light to enroll her son in March. “It was an easy decision,” Brown said. She said the school is closer to their home and she liked what she had heard about the district. Gilbert said besides upping Bowman’s enrollment numbers, the closure of Alta Vista will not significantly affect the school, its budget or the district’s philosophy. “We just try to keep the kids as the forefront of what we do, “None of that has changed by Alta Vista closing.” The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment.