South Valley School District Keeps Growing

August 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
While some Central Valley school districts seeing a decline in enrollment, the Visalia Unified School District in the South Valley keeps growing every year.This year, they've experienced more growth than expected and are still trying to hire teachers right now.

There isn't an empty desk in the fifth grade classrooms at the brand new Annie R. Mitchell Elementary School in Visalia. And with 42 students in some classes, the school had to bring in additional desks to accommodate the extra students.

Principal Andy DiMeo says, "We were not quite anticipating the amount of students we have so we're very excited to be able to add more staffing."

Visalia Unified Superintendent Stan Carrizosa says the district is hiring 73 new teachers this year and that number is rising as more students continue to enroll through Labor Day. Carrizosa says many of the vacancies are due to retirements and resignations but adds Visalia is still growing.

"Lots of movement took place in the last five years. We had many new families move in and many of them had infant age children. What we're seeing over the next few years now is we're seeing those toddlers reach kindergarten age," says Carrizosa.

School officials have already started the hiring process for four new teachers at Annie R. Mitchell Elementary School. It'll take around two weeks until those new teachers are situated, but officials are making adjustments for the overcrowding.

Several substitute teachers were temporarily hired full time to help out teachers who have too many students. The "guest teachers" as they call them, walk around the room giving extra help to kids who need it.

Principal DiMeo says "She's able to offer that immediate attention right there so that the teacher is able to move on and that child is able to get the attention they need. In that respect it's been a real help to us to do that."

The southeast and northwest areas of Visalia are seeing more growth than other parts of the city. If enrollment continues to grow, more teachers could be added to Visalia Unifieds payroll in the future.

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