Expect larger kindergarten class sizes in some schools across Washington state this fall

The top educational leader of Washington state says some schools could be bursting at the seams when it comes to kindergarten classes this fall. 

In October, Q13 News first reported on the many families holding back their kindergarteners from starting school last fall due to the pandemic. 

That’s now leading to this fall’s influx.

Mom Lesley Irizarry-Hogan held back her daughter Ruby from going into kindergarten at Seattle Public Schools.

Irizarry-Hogan was concerned about whether Ruby could thrive through remote learning at just 5 years-old. Many parents had those same concerns. At Seattle Public Schools, hundreds of families kept their kindergarteners from enrolling last fall.

"She’s obviously one more year mature so it will be definitely a positive for her," Irizarry-Hogan said. 

There is no question that Ruby is heading to kindergarten this coming fall.  But depending on the school, get ready for some large classes across the state.

"Thirteen years from now you are going to have the largest group of high school graduation class by a lot in the state of Washington, we will watch that group over time, it will be fascinating to watch them academically and athletically," Reykdal said.

Reykdal says school districts will have to be on their toes to balance their budgets moving forward.

"There is a lot of rebalancing that’s going to go on," Reykdal said.

Reykdal says the challenge is knowing that enrollment numbers will fluctuate as September approaches for the new school season. But schools will still have to plan the best way they can.  

RELATED: Data shows many kindergarten families did not enroll kids this fall

Some schools may have to add classes and hire extra teachers. In case of dramatic class increases, Reykdal says districts will receive more money. 

"This is a really important time for them to be as specific as they can," Reykdal said.

Preliminary data for SPS, the largest school district in Washington, is expecting around 670 more kindergarteners this fall than the previous season.

"The space issue is kind of the one that worries me the most, how are they going to do that," Irizarry-Hogan said.

Reykdal’s office says their expectation is that all school districts will give students the option for 100% in-person learning, as in full days and hours inside the classroom.

Still, so many parents are questioning how things will all pan out.

"How is it going to look, I am the anxious one about what’s going to happen," Irizarry-Hogan said.

SPS says in previous years before the pandemic they’ve had larger kindergarten class sizes than what they are even expecting this fall.  But this will be the first time dealing with larger class sizes in person amid COVID restrictions.

Reykdal says parents who think their kids are academically ready to skip kindergarten should talk to their school district about getting their students tested.

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