New Century, Verona Area International have open spots left after Kindergarten deadline

School directors both expect to fill up later in summer
Scott Girard

New Century School and Verona Area International School both came up short of their 2014-15 kindergarten openings after the Verona Area School District extended the deadline for incoming parents to apply for spots.

After the original deadline of Feb. 14, NCS was at 11 spots for 21 openings, while VAIS had 16 applications for 22 openings. The district’s third charter, Core Knowledge, had 43 applicants for 40 openings.

The district then decided to extend the deadline to March 13 to give the schools a chance for further outreach. After the extension, NCS ended up with 14 applicants, with four new applications, along with one family reversing their one new applicant and one change-of-mind, leaving it at 16 applicants.

Both NCS director Jim Ruder and VAIS director Amanda Mayo expressed optimism that their schools would fill up this summer by families moving into the district, and Mayo said she’s already heard from families planning to move into the district about potential interest.

“We’re really not panicked,” Mayo said. “Obviously we would’ve liked to have seen a wait list like we had the year prior. We’re comfortable with where things are at.”

Both schools will go through the upcoming budget process with that expectation, though if slots were to go unfilled, they would have to adjust their budgets for the following year.

“We’re going to move forward with anticipation of filling the slots,” Ruder said.

In the meantime, he said the NCS site council will continue to monitor the situation and “make adjustments as need be.”

The district changed the way it gets information on school choice to incoming kindergarten parents this year, opting to send a DVD and letter home to those families rather than holding the traditional meeting where each school made a presentation. The decision was aimed at getting information to parents who did not usually attend the meeting, said VASD director of community services John Schmitt.

“We were maybe hitting a third at best, and recognizing the people who were coming were people that had very much interest in it, but we weren’t attracting many people that weren’t able to get to the school easily,” he said at a November board meeting.

Schmitt also told the Verona Press when the district decided to extend the deadline there could be many reasons for the lower numbers outside of the change.

“We don’t know all the reasons (for the low numbers),” he said. “Maybe parents just decided not to (enroll in charters).”

Mayo said VAIS would examine how the new process may have affected recruitment, since the school “didn’t get the immediate interest that we had seen the year before,” when it had 38 applications for 22 openings. VAIS did have applicants for other grades, she said.

“All in all, where the kindergarten might not hit 22, we could still have our target number with our overall enrollment,” Mayo said.

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