Over the next several weeks, roughly 200,000 students will begin the new school year at kindergarten-through-12th-grade schools across Fresno County.
Start dates for the more than two dozen districts range from as early as Tuesday for Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified to as late as Aug. 22 for Clovis Unified. One elementary campus west of Fresno, West Park, began its school year on July 20.
According to California Department of Education data, K-12 enrollment in the county has risen more than 15 percent, from 173,869 students in 1996 to just over 200,333 for the 2015 school year. Districts expect that number will steadily increase going forward.
Central Unified had an enrollment of 15,717 last year and projects 16,075 students for the upcoming school year, said district spokeswoman Sonja Dosti.
“But that could change as students move around but are still registered in the district,” Dosti said. “It usually takes two weeks before we see how things shake out.”
Dosti said the district sees a steady enrollment growth of 100 to 200 students each school year.
Clovis Unified has seen a similar trend. “We are growing and expect to increase enrollment by 300 to 500 students once we start the year,” district spokeswoman Kelly Avants said. “That will put our enrollment over 42,000 students.”
As parents register their children for the new school year, there’s more than just supplies they need to worry about.
A new state law, Senate Bill 277, took effect in January and mandates that all students entering kindergarten and seventh grade demonstrate they are up to date on their vaccines, Dosti said. When a parent registers their child for kindergarten, they will need to show a birth certificate, proof of residency and immunization records.
“We are just upholding the California Department of Public Health guidelines,” Dosti said.
Parents need to show their children are vaccinated against diphtheria, Haemophilus influenzae type B, measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, rubella, tetanus, hepatitis B and chickenpox.
Under the new law, which was passed after 147 people were sickened in a measles outbreak at Disneyland in 2014, parents can no longer use personal-belief exemptions to avoid vaccinating their children.
Medical waivers for vaccines signed by physicians will be accepted, however, and personal-belief exemptions filed before 2016 for enrolled students will remain valid until the child reaches the next immunization checkpoint, which is either kindergarten or seventh grade.
Students who are home-schooled do not need to meet the immunization requirements.
Start dates for Fresno County school districts
July 20: West Park Elementary
Aug. 9: Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified
Aug. 10: Caruthers Unified, Central Unified (1-12), Kerman Unified, Fresno/Metro Central ATP, Sutherland, West Park Charter
Aug. 11: Burrel Union, Westside
Aug. 15: Central (kindergarten), Fresno Unified, Golden Plains Unified, Mendota Unified, Riverdale Unified, Selma Unified, Ramacher School, Fresno Metro ATP
Aug. 16: Washington Unified, Washington Colony, Sierra Unified, Fowler Unified
Aug. 17: Alvina Elementary Charter, Big Creek, Clay Joint, Coalinga-Huron Unified, Monte Vista School, Kings Canyon Unified, Laton Unified, Monroe, Pacific Union, Parlier Unified, Pine Ridge
Aug. 18: Kingsburg Elementary Charter, Orange Center, Sanger Unified
Aug. 22: Clovis Unified, Kingsburg Joint Union High