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School Bells Ring - Classes Back In Session
0821 Playtime
Students had time to get in a little exercise on the play yard at Dent Elementary before their first day of school officially started on Monday, Aug. 19. VIRGINIA STILL/The Times

Temperatures that topped 100 degrees on Monday probably had students wishing they were taking a dip in the pool instead of plunging into a new school year, but classes resumed as scheduled for the Escalon Unified School District on Aug. 19.

District Superintendent Ron Costa said reports from the various campuses on opening day indicated “smooth sailing” in most regards, with few hitches in getting students in to class and ready to learn.

“Ready or not, here we go,” Costa said with a smile, adding that students and staff were “definitely ready” for opening day.

“We were up 22 students district wide,” Costa added of initial numbers for opening day. “That includes the charter school.”

The school district includes Escalon High School, the alternative education Vista High and independent study Sierra View; El Portal Middle School and the four elementary schools, Dent, Van Allen, Collegeville and Farmington. The charter school, which last year included only students in on-campus classes, this year also includes home schooled students.

“Collegeville, Dent and Farmington were down slightly,” Costa said of the enrollment numbers for those elementary sites. “Van Allen was up slightly.”

El Portal also saw a reduction in numbers from last year’s opening day, the high school was up and the Escalon Charter School saw the biggest jump, 63 students overall. Costa said there are now 99 students enrolled in Escalon Charter, with 24 of them home schooled and 75 in classrooms. Numbers at Vista and Sierra View, added Costa, remained steady.

“We had 2800 in seats opening day, actually 2,799 to be exact,” Costa said of the district wide numbers, which are expected to fluctuate a bit during the first week, as students move in or out of the district and others come in via transfer or are just returning from summer vacation.

“I was out at all sites today,” Costa added Monday afternoon. “It seemed like everything was moving smoothly, the kids were in classrooms and we are ready for a full week of instruction.”

The school year has 180 instructional days on the calendar, with “no more furlough days,” Costa said, and teachers came in for orientation last week so classes could start on Monday rather than midweek.

Teachers had a chance to get into their classrooms last week and wrapped up the week with a barbecue and health fair. (See photos, Page A2.)

“We had over 200 employees come and this is the third year the district office staff has hosted the ‘Welcome Back’ barbecue,” Costa explained. “Four of our board members were able to join us, we have vendors that we do business with donate so we can do this, we get donations from the community. The Health Fair is put on by our health providers, giving good information and some special offers.”

Making donations to help provide the luncheon were Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo; CSM Consulting; CT Brayton and Sons, Inc.; Hiller Ford; John Largent; Keenan and Associates; Kelly Robinson; and Tamara Landa and Ray Morgan.

The district also has after school programs for students, with programs through the school at Dent, Farmington and Collegeville, an Escalon Childrens’ Services (ECS) program offered both at Dent and Van Allen and the county Give Every Child A Chance program at El Portal.