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Lodi students head back to school, with a few changes

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Posted: Saturday, July 30, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:26 am, Sat Jul 30, 2011.

School starts Monday for more than 26,000 students who attend Lodi Unified School District schools.

Being the third straight school year of massive budget cuts, there will likely be little change for 2011-12.

Class sizes

Class sizes are expected to remain large through at least 2013-14, although there are plans to make them smaller this school year than last.

Staffing ratios have been set by the school board at 29 students to 1 teacher in kindergarten through third grade; 32 to 1 for fourth through sixth grade; and 34 to 1 for seventh through 12th grade.

"It is important to understand that these are staffing ratios, not class size limits," Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer said earlier this week. "Throughout the year, some classes will be smaller and some will be larger."

It is also common at the beginning of the year to have an adjustment period, she added.

Some classes will have more assigned students than first expected. But during the first few weeks of school, the district will gauge how many students show up.

"We do not always know ahead of time who has left the district and who has moved in," Nichols-Washer said. "Once we know how many students have been dropped and how many new students have enrolled, classes will be adjusted."

Combination classes

As of Thursday, the district has 53 elementary-level combination classes out of 521. Again, this number will change after the first of the school year. Smaller schools, such as Tokay Colony Elementary School, will always have combination classes, according to Nichols-Washer.

Last month, school board president George Neely made it clear that he wanted a public report a couple of weeks after school starts to receive an update on the number of students in each class and how many combination classes are in place.

Less money

This year, sites may also have new fundraisers, seeking to replace the 10 percent reduction trustees approved to extracurricular activities. That could include cuts to sports and non-academic competitions like Science Bowl.

Lodi High School saved money by reducing assistant coaches assigned to some of its sports, according to principal Bob Lofsted. Freshman boys baseball was the only sport that was reduced at all four comprehensive high schools in the district.

"We are hoping that the new foundation starting up for LUSD will generate enough funding to save that sport by next spring," Lofsted said. "We all feel we did very well, the best we could under the circumstances."

Meanwhile, students returning to that campus will be greeted by four renovated biology classroom labs. Most of the student bathrooms, too, have been modernized, as has the outside snack bar.

Like other campuses, the school is also in the last phase of hiring new staff, so students will see some new faces, Lofsted said.

Other changes

Some campuses have changed bell schedules. Check your school's site at www.lodiusd.net.

Also, for the first time this year, both Tokay and Lodi high schools made class schedules available early to students. If one was not picked up early on Friday, they will be available in the respective school courtyard from 6:45 to 7:15 a.m. Monday.

Although state law gave the district an extra month to meet the requirement, students in seventh through 12th grade must still show proof that they received the Tdap immunization booster. Only about 65 percent of students have complied. If the requirement is not met by Sept. 1, students will not be allowed to attend school.

Rehired teachers

A number of pink-slipped teachers have been called back; as of July 13, 102 of the 177 laid off were offered positions for this school year, according to Assistant Superintendent Michael McKilligan. Most of those are at the elementary level.

However, more could be called back based on student enrollment.

Galt schools start Aug. 21.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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1 comment:

  • Betty Dean posted at 6:47 pm on Sun, Jul 31, 2011.

    Betty Dean Posts: 144

    Yep, NO changes, same ol Crap . Top Heavy LUSD is still afloat for a while.They have just moved sround the top ppl.... Stupid



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