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Kindergarten registration at Lincoln School spurs camp out

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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Spirits were high as of 11:45 p.m. Monday night as 41 parents camped outside of Lincoln Crossing Elementary School, in anticipation of turning in kindergarten registration packets. They were there because only 100 spots are available for next year’s kindergarten classes at the school. Western Placer Unified School District Superintendent Scott Leaman said Tuesday afternoon that there are 100 spots for incoming kindergartners because of “current staffing ratios.” “There are limited slots so I think they (parents) are concerned about getting them,” Leaman said. “The best we can do is taking them (registration packets) on a certain day.” Leaman said parents mailed their registration packets in last year. Some parents “felt this was unfair because some people said they had picked up their packet prior to someone else” whose child had gotten into kindergarten when they didn’t,” Leaman said. Each school accepts the same amount of kindergartners each year, according to the superintendent, and the only other district school with a line was Twelve Bridges Elementary School. Assistant superintendent of educational services Mary Boyle said parents will find out by mail in April whether or not their child was accepted into kindergarten at Lincoln Crossing Elementary School. If they are not accepted, they will be sent to another Lincoln elementary school. Boyle said children with a sibling already enrolled in the school are guaranteed a spot. Lincoln Crossing Elementary School principal Kevin Kurtz said there are “a little over 50” registration packets that have been handed in for kids that already have a sibling at the school. Some parents had only lawn chairs and warm clothes to sleep in while others had brought sleeping bags, air mattresses and even patio furniture. One group near the front of the line started referring to each other as a number, which signified their place in line. “It’s fun. We’re making friends,” said Eric Leeth, who was referred to as number 9. Some parents were playing movies on their laptops and many of them had food. “My wife and mother-in-law have been dropping provisions off as I need them, including the DVD player,” said Sean McKinney, who was trying to get his daughter into the school. “I know that my parents camped out for three days to get me into a magnet-art program in Sacramento so this is nothing.” Surjit Hayer was second to last in line as of 11:45 p.m. “Having your child enter kindergarten should not be this stressful and they should have a process in place so we don’t have to camp overnight but if that’s what it takes,” Hayer said. As of 6 p.m. Monday, 30 parents were lined up in hopes of being the first 100 to turn their kindergarten registration packets in and they were planning on spending the night. “Registration starts at 7:15 a.m. and there are only 100 spots,” Elizabeth Cheairs said. Her husband, Ross Cheairs, was planning on camping out until morning so their daughter could get into kindergarten. “Everyone had the same plan to drive by at night to see how the line was but there were people here at 4 p.m.” Cheairs said her husband would sleep in front of the school Monday night because the family lives across the street from the school. “I want her to go to her neighborhood school, which is in walking distance,” she said. Ross Cheairs, optimistic about his overnight stay in front of the school, brought a sleeping bag, hat, pillow and some water. “It’s just overnight so it’s not bad. It’s not supposed to be too cold,” Ross Cheairs said. “I’ll probably doze off and on.” Many of the parents The News Messenger talked to had children who lived very close to the school. “I live right across the street and we moved to this city because of an opportunity for our kids to have a good education,” said Kenny Watts, who has two sons he is trying to get into kindergarten there. “It seems ridiculous with all the planning that schools are a second thought.” Jessica Dallas, who has a son entering kindergarten next year, said she and her husband would take turns waiting in line overnight. “We live at a place where we can see the school so it’s annoying that we have to do this,” Dallas said. “I understand but I wish they’d get the other elementary school started.” Pam Soha, a secretary at Lincoln Crossing Elementary School, date and time stamped the registration packets as they came in Tuesday morning, and said there were about 103 packets turned in. She said there were no angry parents and that everyone was laughing. “It was wonderful and the parents were great,” Soha said. “They got to know each other last night and were saying goodbye to each other.”