Salome Daniel is about to start a new adventure. "We're signing [her] up for Kindergarten," her mom Romy Daniel said.
They're not alone. Tuesday was the first day incoming Missoula Kindergarteners could register for the 2012-2013 school year, with 341 kids signing up in just one day. That's more than half the total number of Kindergarteners the district is anticipating next year.
"We think the incoming class will probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of 550 plus students," MCPS Public Affairs Director Lesli Brassfield said. "So we're a little over halfway there."
One district official said in a meeting Monday that at least one or two Missoula schools are seeing a flood of future Kindergarteners registering this week -- as many as 100 students more than they'd anticipated.
"We just heard it's kind of a first-come-first-serve situation, and we wanted to make sure she had a spot," Daniel said. "We live really close by so we wanted to be sure she got into this school.
Brassfield says she is not expecting a larger than normal class at this point, although it's still important parents register their kids as soon as possible.
"By having an accurate number of Kindergarteners in the next few weeks, it enables us to plan accordingly for the numbers of teachers we'll need," she said.
Brassfield says the district will adjust teacher and class assignments if necessary, depending on how many kids are enrolled at each school. She says each class has a firm cap of 20 students, and that they'd only move kids to schools outside their districts as a last resort.
"The preference would be to first accommodate those students by hiring an extra teacher, and bringing in another class," she said.
Brassfield says the district will start crunching class numbers in late May or early June.
This year's class was larger than normal, with 650 Kindergarteners enrolled in MCPS. Officials say they're not yet sure if that was a one-year spike, or the beginning of a long-term increase in the number of Missoula students.