Ready, set, school |

Ready, set, school

Balloons and a banner welcomed students back to Ready Springs School in Penn Valley Wednesday, while coffee, muffins and the warm feeling of community welcomed their parents on the first day back to class.

While many area schools will be struggling this year with declining enrollment and uncertain state budget flows, Ready Springs had an unexpected boom in children coming the first day, Principal Thomas Bivens said.

Nearly 230 students in kindergarten through eighth grade attended the first day, up from about 180 students enrolled last year, Bivens said.

“It was a surprise,” Bivens said.

He had expected 22 kindergartners, but 32 showed up. He had expected 19 second-graders, but 32 showed up there, as well.

Bivens, who came into the job last year, attributed the increase to “a really fine year last year that got the word of mouth out there that this is a school to keep your kids at.”

People living in the district had been sending their children to schools outside the district two to four years ago, Bivens added.

The surge in enrollment could lead to the hiring of a new teacher at the school, Bivens said. That decision would be made by the Ready Springs School District’s new superintendent, Debra Sandoval; she could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In the meantime, “we’re in a holding pattern to see if the attendance stabilizes,” Bivens said.

Despite that uncertainty, mom Jamie Horton-Yokom was excited about the school’s blossoming after years of declining numbers and last year’s slog through a $1.6 million remodeling.

“The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade teachers took money from their fund and bought every student a big kit with all the things you go down to the store to get: A binder, notebook, calculator, ruler, math gauge, colored pens and pencils, glue sticks,” Horton-Yokom said.

“They said, ‘We wanted to make sure that every child had everything they needed on the first day of school,'” she added. “It’s such a positive place. … People were standing everywhere and talking. It was very nice.

To contact City Editor Trina Kleist, e-mail or call 477-4230.

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