Enrollment requirement met

Montessori program has 23 intent forms 2 days before deadline

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The minimum enrollment requirement for a public Montessori program in Steamboat Springs was met Wednesday, two days before the scheduled end of registration.

The parents of 23 students had turned in Montessori intent forms as of Wednesday afternoon, Strawberry Park Principal John DeVincentis said. Of the 23, 19 are considered "definites" for the program, and four are "most likely" to enroll, he said.

A settlement agreement between the Steamboat Springs School District and Steamboat Springs Montessori stipulates a minimum of 22 students for a Montessori class to be created at Strawberry Park. Five student commitments Wednesday pushed the number of students above that threshold.

The 23 students, most of whom live within district boundaries, represent a fairly balanced mix of rising first-, second- and third-graders. The Montessori method of education emphasizes multi-age classrooms, and a typical Montessori primary class is comprised of first- through third-graders.

The district also is accepting registration forms for rising fourth- and fifth-graders. Between eight and 10 rising fourth- and fifth-graders have registered in hopes the district will create a second, older Montessori classroom this fall, DeVincentis said.

Parent Jody Patten, a member of Steamboat Springs Montessori, said many parents aren't aware of the age groups that can be part of the Montessori strand and encouraged parents with students who will be fourth- or fifth-graders next year to register their children.

The district will use final enrollment numbers and grade-level breakdowns to determine how to create the program. Though the traditional first- through third-grade Montessori class is the most likely option, a first- and second-grade class, and third- and fourth-grade class hasn't been ruled out.

Montessori enrollment is open to all Routt County students, regardless of whether they are home-schooled, enrolled in private schools or attend school in the South Routt or Hayden school districts.

The Montessori program could have been created in time for the 2004-05 school year even if 22 students didn't register for a first- through third-grade class. A provision in the settlement agreement grants Superintendent Donna Howell the authority to waive the minimum enrollment number.

Howell said Tuesday she'd consider waiving the enrollment requirement if 18 or 19 students were registered for the program. It appears as though her discretion won't be necessary.

The district also was considering extending the registration deadline past Friday, but that also may not be necessary.

Montessori program registration forms can be obtained at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools, as well as the district's central office at Seventh and Oak streets.

For more information, call DeVincentis at 879-7550 or Soda Creek Principal Judy Harris at 879-0652.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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