More than three years ago, parents of Pine View School students filled a section of the Sarasota County School Board chambers, complaining that the board was considering a lottery to control the number of new students allowed into its nationally recognized school for the gifted, given the campus’ space limitations.
Those concerns no longer are relevant as a result of the declining district enrollment, Sonia Figaredo-Alberts, the district’s executive director for Pupil Support Services, told the school board during its Oct. 18 work session.
The district has been monitoring all of its gifted programs for the past three years, Figaredo-Alberts said, but staff particularly had been concerned about not going over capacity at Pine View.
The numbers of gifted students have remained steady at all other schools offering programs for them, she said. “So we feel that our parents have choices” about where to send their children, she added.
“If the enrollment picks up at Pine View, what will kick that lottery system back in place?” board member Shirley Brown asked.
The monitoring of applications for Pine View and the other gifted programs should keep the district from having to consider a lottery in the future, Figaredo-Alberts said. No data from the past three years had raised a flag, she added, to indicate problems might arise in the near future.
“We have a process that is working?” board member Carol Todd asked. That was the case, Figaredo-Alberts told her.
“If we have a process that is working, I am OK with it,” Todd said.
If it appeared the district, once again, would encounter problems with capacity in the gifted programs, Superintendent Lori White said, staff would bring the situation to the board’s attention in a timely fashion.
“It’s not something we all of a sudden would spring on everybody as a surprise,” she said.
Brown also asked Figaredo-Alberts about enrollment figures showing Pine View had seen its number of second-graders increase from 108 in the 2010-11 school year to 111 in the current school year. According to her calculations, Brown said, the 2011-12 figure put one second-grade class three students over the Florida Class Size Amendment level allowed.
If necessary, Figaredo-Alberts said, schools, including Pine View, combined second- and third-graders in a class to make sure the district met the class-size standards. However, she said, “We have not had to do that” at Pine View.
“Instructionally, one student (over the allowed limit) is not going to make a difference,” Todd said.
However, the district would have to pay approximately $5,000 to the state for any instance of exceeding class size, White pointed out.
“It was a lot of monies to risk,” she said. “We made a specific goal in this district to meet the class-size requirement.”