Numbers are lower than city schools expected to see

The sooner parents contact the school system the better

Photo by Janelle Patterson Brenda Martin, right, helps Tyler Mulneix sign up her daughter Payton Garlock for kindergarten at the Marietta City Schools Student Services office at 111 Academy Drive, Marietta, on Tuesday. The office is open for kindergarten registration again today between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

One fallout of an 18-month pandemic locally is a search for “missing” kindergarteners.

Now, they’re not missing in the Amber Alert sense.

“But the numbers don’t add up” explained Brenda Martin, student service secretary, as she logged student enrollment at the Marietta City Schools Student Services office Tuesday. “Before things shut down we had a better idea of how many names were coming in from the preschools, but a lot have moved, either out of the district, or selected private schools or are holding off a year but they haven’t told us.”

This, she explained, makes planning for even class sizes difficult between the two remaining lower elementary buildings (Phillips and Washington) which will house the kindergarten classes this coming school year.

At this time last year, 214 kindergarten students were registered to begin school in August.

But this year?

“We’re barely at 142 names now,” said Martin.

A 72-student difference impacts multiple classrooms, bus route planning and service planning for students after assessment in the first few days of school.

“And we don’t just want to throw your kid in a classroom at the last minute when we could better plan for their needs and serve them better with registration now,” said Martin.

Superintendent Will Hampton noted the momentous occasion may have slipped parents/guardians’ minds amid the stress of economic shutdowns over the last 18 months, but the birth date cutoff for kindergarten enrollment is swiftly approaching.

“For many families, this is a big deal, a milestone of their family life,” he said.

And missing nearly four or five classrooms’ worth of students in enrollment can impact how well teacher pivots occur for assignment and placement in the fall.

“So really as soon as parents can get with us, the better, even if it’s just to let us know they’re not coming,” said Martin.

Children who turn 5 years old before Aug. 1 are eligible for kindergarten registration.

Today between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. parents can stop in for the registration, taking between five and 30 minutes to complete required paperwork for entry into the school student system.

“If they have the birth certificate, social security card, immunization record and if applicable custody papers, they can be in and out in as little as five minutes,” she explained. “But even if they forget one of those, we can get the process started and start filling out the other paperwork in the packet here.”

Proof of residency is also a key component, she explained.

“To determine that yes, that child lives within the district, just like with the custody papers, we’re working in the best interest and safety of that child,” said Martin. “This can be a rental agreement, utility bill or mortgage statement.”

Students are not required to attend with the parent or guardian registering, but are able to sit alongside as the emergency medical authorization, enrollment form, health history, transportation form, oral health assessment, preschool communications authorization and if applicable displacement identification.

But Payton Garlock, 4, of Marietta, was excited to attend with her mother Tyler Mulneix, on Tuesday, as forms were completed and medical history was quickly reviewed.

“I’m going to be 5 soon,” said Garlock. “We’re going to the pool.”

Families that miss today’s open invitation may schedule a time this month to complete a packet at the board office at 111 Academy Drive by calling 740-376-2468 ext. 8111 or 740-374-6500 ext. 8010.

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.


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