Northwest Arkansas school districts put out call for kindergartners

Posted: February 2, 2018 at 1 a.m.

Kindergarten teacher Marla McRae (right) goes over a spelling exercise with Thrinaya Basker, 6 (left), on Thursday at Mary Mae Jones Elementary School in Bentonville. Kindergarten registration is under way in the Bentonville School District and coming up soon in other districts.

It's that time of year when school districts begin to get an idea of how many kindergartners will fill their classrooms next school year.

Principal Ashley Williams (from right) hugs Julia Riffe, 5, as she waits Thursday with her classmates to go to the cafeteria at Mary Mae Jones Element...

The kindergarten registration process is either underway or starts soon in Northwest Arkansas' largest school districts. Children who will be 5 years old as of Aug. 1 are eligible for kindergarten.

Kindergarten Registration Dates

Bentonville: Register early online now until 3 p.m. Feb. 9. Final registration is set for 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 27, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 28 and 7 a.m.-noon March 1. Visiting BentonvilleK12.org and click “Enrollment Information” under the “Parents” tab for more information.

Fayetteville: Register 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday at all elementary schools. Visit www.fayar.net to access and print the registration forms. Forms also will be available at each elementary school.

Rogers: Register 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 27 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 28 at the child’s zoned school. Details and registration documents can be found at RogersSchools.net/Enrollment.

Springdale: Registration begins March 12 at elementary schools during regular school hours. Visit Sdale.org and click “Parents” at the top of the page, then click “Student Registration” for more information.

Source: Staff Report

The Bentonville School District's online pre-registration period began Monday and continues until 3 p.m. Feb. 9. Those who pre-register continue the process by registering in person at the student's assigned school Feb. 27-March 1. Families that miss the pre-registration period may register once general enrollment opens April 2.

The pre-registration period helps in several ways, said Tanya Sharp, director of student services.

"It helps us with our projections of how many kindergarten sections we need for the district. It also helps us with our capacities in some of our schools that have capacity issues," she said.

Central Park and Willowbrook elementaries could have issues because of the growing population in the south side of the district, Sharp said.

Schools generally require the following documentation to complete registration: a birth certificate, a Social Security card or number, an updated immunization record, proof of address and a copy of a physical medical exam completed within the past two years.

The Fayetteville School District's registration day is Thursday. Happy Hollow Elementary School encourages parents to bring their child for registration. A staff member will do a basic assessment of the child's math and literacy knowledge and get an idea of his personality, said Dondi Frisinger, Happy Hollow's principal.

That assessment results in a report that helps parents know what skills their children could work on before they show up for school. It also benefits the school.

"It just helps us get ahead a little bit as far as balancing our classrooms," Frisinger said.

She won't be surprised if more than 50 children show up Thursday to enroll, she said. Members of the parent-teacher organization help manage the additional traffic in the building.

The Rogers School District also encourages parents to bring their children to registration Feb. 27-28 for a bit of screening that provides schools some basic information about the children, said Virginia Abernathy, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.

Most of the Rogers district's 15 elementary schools are at or near capacity. A 16th elementary school is on the way, but won't open until fall 2019.

Springdale's kindergarten registration begins March 12. Parents should register at the school their child is zoned to attend.

"We will have packets available for them to complete and return to the school," said Kathy Morledge, a Springdale assistant superintendent. "We do encourage them to register this spring so we'll have well-staffed kindergartens in August."

March 12 is the beginning of Springdale's student-led conferences, where children present their work and goals to their parents. For parents of children already in the elementary schools, that makes it a convenient time to sign up for kindergarten.

"We know we'll have a lot of parents in our schools that week," Morledge said.

Marla McRae is a kindergarten teacher at Mary Mae Jones Elementary School in Bentonville. She's taught kindergarten for 19 of her 22 years in education. The main thing they'll work on to begin the school year is their social skills, McRae said.

"If they've been in a preschool or something like that, it really helps with their social skills and just being able to get along and work with other kids, because they're going to be in a class with 20 students," McRae said. "If they come in knowing some letters and sounds that's great, but they do not have to."

Her favorite part about teaching kindergarten is observing the way students grow academically and socially.

"I love how they're so eager to learn and they love school. They love being here. And they're just like little sponges, they just soak everything up. It's definitely a very rewarding grade," she said.

NW News on 02/02/2018