The first day of school was this week — Wednesday for Los Banos and Pacheco high schools and Thursday for everyone else — and as of Monday projections were for a record-high 10,083 students filling Los Banos classrooms.
Superintendent Steve Tietjen said first-day attendance numbers will be sent to him today. He said that although he does not know what the tally will be, it will definitely increase after Sept. 1.
“There’ll always be growth after Labor Day,” he said. “Some parents are traditionalists and don’t believe children should go to school until after Labor Day.”
On the first day of class last year, there were 9,622 students. That number was 9,743 in 2012.
If the district’s projections hold, Los Banos Junior High School will meet last school year’s peak enrollment. Tietjen said he’s now expecting 1,589 students at the seventh- and eighth-grade school. The junior high was built for 900.
Last month, based on the number of advancing eighth-graders and incoming sixth-graders, Tietjen predicted 50 fewer students at Los Banos Junior High.
Student growth is assessed by calculating birth rates five years earlier and new home construction. However, an emerging rental market in Los Banos has made the calculation more difficult, according to Tietjen.
The district was expecting home building to return this summer, resulting in more households with children. However, predictions have fallen short.
“There’s no real housing growth, a few in-fill projects, and I’m not seeing many foreclosures. So we have the same number of homes we did in 2007,” Tietjen said.
District officials have plans to build a middle school or junior high on 15 acres south of Prairie Springs Drive and east of Badger Flat Road, south of Target. The state will ultimately determine when the new school gets built.
The district needs matching funding, and the money will likely only become available if an education bond is placed on the ballot and approved by voters.