Local News

Aug 16, 2010 9:31 PM by Ariel Wesler

Back to school for Santa Maria Bonita District

It was back to the books today for students in the Santa Maria Bonita School District. It's expecting to see its enrollment grow. That means larger class sizes, but also more funding for the district.

These kids are facing their toughest test yet, Kindergarten.

"He's more excited. He said he was going to walk to school and I said no," said Susan Iliff of Santa Maria.

For Alexandra Torrez, not only is this her first day of school, it's her first day at any school. Her mom, Olga, fought back a few tears.

"I feel bad for her because, she's little, she's young and I imagine if it's hard for me, how hard it can be for her," said Olga Torrez

"You have to bring them in and just kind of start establishing a routine right away, so that they know what to expect," said Karen Kahn Pearson, a Kindergarten teacher.

Starting out, teachers, like Mrs. Pearson, have to begin with the basics.

"We all learned how to use the bathroom and wash our hands and just gonna take a tour of the playground and recess and figure out how to get them all in the lunch line," Pearson said.

For some of these kids, this is also their first recess, but teachers say that's changing. more kindergarteners are starting their education earlier, going to pre-school and pre-k.

"The First 5 program, the Kindergarten readiness, and the Kindergarten boot camps that we've had have all made a tremendous difference," Pearson said.

It also looks to be a record year for enrollment at the district.

"We do expect to be over 14,000 students this year and that's preschool through 8th grade," said District Spokesperson Maggie White

That's more money administrators hope will give them a bit of a buffer in case the state makes further cuts to education. Meanwhile, inside the classroom gauging the mood is a bit easier.

California has just applied for $1.2 billion in federal education funding. That money could create more than 16,500 education jobs in the state and allow districts to keep and rehire teachers. So far, Santa Maria Bonita has not had to layoff any teachers.

Also new this year, elementary school students will get out of class an hour early on Thursdays for teacher training sessions.


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