Of the Baker City Herald

It would be a whole lot easier to balance classroom sizes in the Baker School District's five elementary schools if administrators knew how many children to expect when school begin Sept. 3.

Superintendent Don Ulrey said that after Wednesday's close of registration, about 50 elementary-aged students expected to register have not.

School officials ask parents or guardians to register those students as soon as possible so that administrators can finalize the job of shifting students to the schools that have space for them.

The shifts must be made, Ulrey said, because of the $1.6 million in reduced state funding that the district will receive this year. Still, he said, once the shifting is complete, total class sizes are not expected to exceed district guidelines.

andquot;The space is available, but the distribution of students from grade to grade is inconsistent,andquot; Ulrey said.

Elementary school principals met Thursday to begin discussing the number of students that must transfer to another school, but made no final decision, Ulrey said.

andquot;It's their process,andquot; he said. andquot;They've worked hard on this one.andquot;

The process cannot go forward until administrators have a good idea how many students to expect, he said.

andquot;The (overcrowding) issue exists in all three Baker City elementary schools, but at different grade levels,andquot; he said. andquot;Haines and Keating schools will both have room for additional students at nearly every grade.andquot;

Principals are using a list of criteria to determine who must transfer, Ulrey said. The list includes which school the student attends, siblings in the school, special education needs, the number of years attended, parental requests, and staff recommendations.

andquot;The goal will be to balance classes while minimizing the impact on students and families,andquot; Ulrey said.

District personnel have begun to notify the parents of children targeted for transfer, Ulrey said. Some parents especially those with just one child in school andquot;gladly volunteerandquot; to have their child transferred, he said.

Parents who register their children late may find that some classes are full, Ulrey said. In that case, they may be asked to register in a different school.

The problem is not limited to the elementary schools, Ulrey said. As of Friday morning, some students had not been registered at both the middle school and the high school. Students at those schools are also asked to register by early next week.

andquot;Our hope is that parents will register their children as soon as possible to give administrators firm numbers,andquot; he said. andquot;With patience and clear communication, we can produce the most effective class environments possible.andquot;