NEWPORT BEACH / COSTA MESA : District to Discuss Plan for Enrollment

Parents with children attending Newport-Mesa Unified School District schools will have an opportunity Jan. 31 to see what district officials are planning to do to cope with increasing enrollment.

Previous discussions have focused on the Newport Harbor zone, where some elementary schools have reached capacity. The upcoming session will encompass all attendance areas.

Over the next few months, the school board will have to find the best way to handle the problem.

Solutions being discussed include temporary classrooms and long-term options like year-round schools and adding afternoon kindergarten sessions.

Projections for the Newport Harbor zone indicate that elementary and middle school enrollment is on the rise. While the district can accommodate students on an area-wide basis, problems occur in particular schools that already are overcrowded. At Kaiser Primary School, for instance, kindergarten through second grades are at 113% of capacity. Ensign Intermediate is expected to be at 107% of capacity.

Although some schools have more than 100% enrollment, they are not in a crisis situation, according to Dale Wooley, the district's executive director of planning and program development. The 100% enrollment is based on available classroom space but does not count converting media centers and instructional activity labs into classrooms.

Wooley's staff has suggested double-session kindergarten to ease crowding at Kaiser Primary, using a science room as a classroom at Mariners Elementary and adding two portable classrooms to Ensign Intermediate for the 1995-96 school year.

A change in school attendance boundaries or grade levels might also be suggested, depending on overall enrollment projections.

The board initially planned to have the study session today but opted for the later date to give a committee studying Newport Harbor zone attendance the chance to meet and be ready with recommendations.

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