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Enrollment Increase Surpasses Projections

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Enrollment is increasing across Capistrano Unified School District this fall as more families with young children move to South County, officials said.

As of Wednesday, the third day of the district’s 1996-97 school year, 37,256 students were enrolled at its 37 schools. That compared to a pupil count of 34,457 a year earlier.

Officials had projected second-month enrollment at 36,900, but after less than a week of classes, the total is already more than that. “The numbers are going right off the charts,” spokeswoman Jackie Price said. “We’re seeing growth districtwide.”

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The rise in enrollment can be attributed to several factors, officials said, including a positive South County economic climate. Families with school-age children are moving into new-home developments in Aliso Viejo, Las Flores, Rancho Santa Margarita and Wagon Wheel, statistics show. And in older communities like Mission Viejo, families with young children are buying homes from older couples with grown children.

To ease the district’s growing pains, Capistrano Unified opened Oak Grove Elementary School in Aliso Viejo this year and has plans for new campuses in the Wagon Wheel, Las Flores and Forster Ranch communities in the next few years.

A new high school is scheduled to be built in Chiquita Canyon in Rancho Mission Viejo.

The district has also hired about 275 new teachers to accommodate the growing student population and to implement class size reductions to 20 students in the first, second and third grades, officials said. Portable classrooms are being used for the added classes.

Price said district officials are analyzing enrollment figures every day and watching individual grade levels to see if still more classes need to be added.

“There are not enough state funds to build all the schools we desperately need,” Price said.

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