Parents accompanied their children to the first day of school Monday at Ridgeview Elementary School.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Parents accompanied their children to the first day of school Monday at Ridgeview Elementary School.

Moffat County K-12 students return to class Monday

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Crystal Miller, right, pays book fees Monday inside Ridgeview Elementary School while her daughter, Teya, 5, looks on. Teya began her first day of kindergarten Monday at Ridgeview, where Crystal works as a special education teacher.

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Ezra Phillips, 7, gets ready to throw a football to his stepfather, Wayne Wagner, Monday at Ridgeview Elementary School. Monday was the first day of school for all Moffat County School District students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

At a glance

• Monday was the first day of school for all Moffat County School District kindergarten through 12th-grade students.

• Enrollment numbers have not been finalized because some students don’t return to school until after Labor Day.

• New attendance boundaries go into effect this year that send about 70 students from Sandrock Elementary School to East and Ridgeview elementary schools.

Quotable

“He’s really enthused. It’s just like adrenaline, you know?”

—Craig resident Patricia Dohrman on her son Brandon’s first day of third grade at Ridgeview Elementary School

The playground at Ridgeview Elementary School was alive with activity at about 7:45 a.m. Monday as children squeezed in a few last minutes of play before the day began in earnest.

For these students and hundreds of others, summer officially ended Monday, the first day of school for all Moffat County School District students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Preschool students got an extra day of vacation; school for them started Tuesday.

EmiLee Dohrman, 16, enclosed her little brother Brandon Ancell in a hug on the playground while his mother, Patricia Dohrman, stood close by. In a few minutes, Brandon would begin his first day as a third-grader at Ridgeview.

Patricia was “excited for him,” she said, adding, “Everybody’s all happy and cheerful and it’s fun.”

And, from what she could tell, Brandon felt the same.

“He’s really enthused,” she said. “ It’s just like adrenaline, you know? It’s just going.”

Shifting student count

It was difficult Monday to say how many students will be enrolled at Moffat County schools this year because some students don’t return to school until after Labor Day, Superintendent Joe Petrone said, adding more definitive numbers should be available after the weekend.

But, enrollment is expected to change at some local elementary schools this year.

Parents had the option to move their children from Sandrock because the school did not make Adequate Yearly Progress targets.

“There have been several parents who have exercised that option,” Petrone said.

Exact numbers of students who chose to transfer were not available from the school district office Monday. However, Petrone said that, to his knowledge, fewer than 10 students transferred from Sandrock because the school didn’t make AYP.

The bigger influence on the school’s enrollment, though, is reworked attendance boundaries that go into effect this year and send students from Sandrock to less populated schools.

About 70 Sandrock students are scheduled to attend either East or Ridgeview, according to data provided by Mark Rydberg, school district finance director, in June.

Redrawing the boundaries allowed the district to reduce its staffing by six teachers — one each for grades kindergarten through fifth, he said.

A financial shortfall was a key factor behind the change.

“We had to find ways to reduce, and that was one way to better … harmonize size across four elementaries,” Petrone said.

But, budgets and enrollment numbers were the last thing on the minds of students who streamed onto the Ridgeview Elementary playground.

Some made a beeline for friends while others hung close to their parents. Ridgeview teachers Matt Ray and Phyllis Reed surveyed the scene, occasionally pausing to greet children or give them a hug.

Students are generally excited to see their friends and meet their new teachers on the first day of school, said Reed, who teaches kindergarten through fifth-grade music. She added, “We’re usually excited to see them, too.”

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