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Back to school – already?

09.04.2012 | Lagonian | Candyce Amaya

We all know that the summer wasn’t long enough─at least, that’s what our children kept telling us School has been in session for Brewer Island since August 1 while the first day of school for Foster City Elementary, Audubon and Bowditch started August 29.

Our summers in Foster City are relaxing days spent at the swimming pool. On Friday evenings we go to the free concerts at the amphitheater. Vacations are spent with family members who are too busy during the school year to have much quality time together. We get re-acquainted on our family vacations and set up outings and play dates with neighbors and classmates. Our kids enjoy the relaxing schedule over the summer. Moms are torn between being sad and relieved that summer vacation is over as they pick up on chores that just weren’t getting done while the kids were home…

Enrollment at our Foster City elementary schools have increased again this year. Growth in our schools has been steady with Brewer Island expected to have 726 students this year, Foster City projected to have 830 students, Audubon likely to get a headcount of 645 and Bowditch Middle School topping out with 967 students. Foster City Elementary has reached the point where they now have an assistant principal assigned to help their longtime principal, Dave Holcomb — an amazing man who seems to get shuffled around a bit because he works miracles when they are needed.

All the schools are reducing the maximum student count in grades kindergarten through third grade from 26 children per class in 2011-2012 to 24 children per class in 2012-2013 — with a couple of exceptions. Grades four and five are still held at 30 students as they have been in the past. It’s no wonder that the populations at our schools keep increasing since, once again, our Foster City schools top the charts as far as 2011 test scores go in the San Mateo / Foster City School District.

Brewer Island is the top school in the district with an API (Academic Performance Index) score of 951. Foster City Elementary ranks second in the district with an API score of 936 while Audubon comes in fourth with a score of 901 — and this is out of 16 elementary schools!

Our middle school Bowditch, ranks first in API scores amongst our district middle schools with an API score of 909 — the second ranking score in the district is far behind with a score of 829.

Check out the ranking of the different schools at http://www.smfc.k12.ca.us/achievement_success — it’s always rewarding to see how well our schools perform and to feel a sense of satisfaction that we’ve chosen to live in a city with highly-ranked schools. There is a rating system though Great Schools, the country’s leading source of information on school performance, which rates schools on a scale of one through ten. Brewer Island and Foster City Elementary top these charts with a score of 10 while Audubon and Bowditch come up with a score of 9.

I would have to say that the most exciting change this year is the transitional kindergarten class starting up at Audubon. The new minimum age requirement to start kindergarten this year is for the child to be five years of age by November 1, 2012 whereas in the past system the cut-off date would have been December 2.

To assist with this change, children with birthdates that fall within this gap are eligible for transitional kindergarten. This class will be such an advancement over regular preschool that these fortunate children will emerge very well prepared for kindergarten the following year. With the past system, children with birthdates that fell in this gap often had to work harder to keep up in order to make up for the fact that they were definitely younger than the majority of their classmates.

It is the goal for the district to move this date earlier each year, thus allowing more children to enter into transitional kindergarten instead of regular kindergarten, until the cut-off date is set at September 1 where it will stay.

One of the main reasons I love writing for The Lagonian is that I can boast about my home town. I feel like a mother bragging about her children to a relative — it’s allowed because it’s a pride that we all share. We have a wonderful community with fantastic schools that somehow just keep getting better! Regardless of how frustrated we often feel when we hear about how California’s schools don’t always keep up with those in the rest of the nation, we at least can feel reassured that it doesn’t hold true for OUR schools. We definitely are not the average school district in California — we excel and we intend to continue doing so.

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