The registration deadline to enroll in a Montessori pilot program at Strawberry Park Elementary School has been extended to Wednesday, as the number of families interested in the program continues to grow.
District officials extended the original Monday deadline by nearly two weeks in hopes parents with a desire to place their students in a Montessori class will have that opportunity, Strawberry Park Principal John DeVincentis said.
The Montessori pilot program is scheduled to begin this fall, but the number of classes and how they will be set up won't be determined until the registration period ends.
The minimum number of 22 students needed for a Montessori class to be created was met last week, and intent forms for the program have continued to roll in.
As of Wednesday, the district had received 39 intent forms -- 27 for students who will be first-, second- or third-graders for the 2004-05 school year and 12 for students who will be fourth-, fifth- or sixth-graders.
A typical Montessori setup groups children in grades one through three in a primary class and children in grades four through six in an upper-primary class. Dr. Maria Montessori, the woman who developed the educational method a century ago, based the age breakdowns on the developmental stages of children.
The district is awaiting final registration numbers before it determines how many Montessori classes will be created for the program's first year and what age groups the class or classes will include. District officials hope to determine the setup of the program shortly after the Wednesday deadline passes.
Superintendent Donna Howell said she would be comfortable creating two primary classes if the number of enrollees in grades one through three reaches 40 students.
"But I doubt we'll get 40 for this year," Howell said.
The district has talked about creating a single primary class with as many as 27 or 28 students, but Howell said she'd prefer to keep the number near 22 students unless an aide is added.
"If we go up to 28, we really have to have a conversation about putting an aide in there," she said, adding that no other district elementary classes approach that number of students.
Howell said at least 20 students in grades four through six will need to enroll before she will approve an upper-elementary class.
Of the 39 students who have turned in Montessori intent forms, seven aren't enrolled in the district, Howell said. The district will gain nearly $50,000 in revenue if all seven students end up in the school system next year. That's enough money to pay the salary of an additional Montessori teacher if more than one class is created, she said.
Montessori registration forms are available at Strawberry Park Elementary School, Soda Creek Elementary School and the district's central office on Seventh Street. For more information, call Strawberry Park Principal John DeVincentis at 879-7550.
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