GARDEN VALLEY, Idaho — With a lot of schools still facing uncertainty, some parents have now chosen to move to the small mountain town of Garden Valley to enroll their kids in the school there, but it's having a significant impact on the school district.
“We delayed school from starting [Tuesday] to starting next Monday mostly due to the large amount, large number of enrollees,” Superintendent Vickie Chandler said.
Over the last 10 days, 79 new students have enrolled, a 35% increase from the district's usual student body.
“This number is pushing everybody to the seams,” Chandler said.
The majority of the students are coming from Boise, Nampa, Caldwell, Meridian and the Middleton area - places where school districts are starting the school year with virtual learning or a mix of online and in-person learning.
“A majority of them have either purchased homes and moved up here, some have second homes up here so they're moving here because they have second homes and they can go to school in school, which is something the parents really wanted,” Chandler said.
Though the Garden Valley School District has an online option, the vast majority - about 90%, according to Chandler - plan to attend in person.
The sudden influx of students is also presenting some challenges.
“We have a one-on-one device ratio for our students but in no way or shape or form would we be ready for 79 [new] students,” Chandler said.
Which is why the school district pushed back the start of school by one week, to make sure the incoming students have everything they need, mainly technology.
“We are at or over capacity in a lot of our classrooms,” Chandler said.
Typically, Garden Valley School classes consist of 15 to 20 students. However, that number is looking more like 28 to 30 students, at least in the elementary school.
“We have one teacher per grade for K-thru-eighth and so one classroom and they're just getting big, so if they're coming to enjoy the small class size we're not there anymore,” Chandler said.
While she understands why parents may be attracted to Garden Valley, Chandler said the district can't handle much more.
“I'd really like to say please, please don’t do it, but we're a very welcoming community and school and it would be very hard for us to be well-prepared for many more students if they were coming in with school starting on Monday,” she said.
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