he No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has finally had an effect on Idyllwild School beyond spring’s standardized testing. Eleven students from other Hemet Unified School District schools began attending Idyllwild Monday and three more are expected, according to Idyllwild Principal Matt Kraemer.
The NCLB law permits parents of students whose schools have not met testing goals — identified as “program improvement” schools — to elect to have their children attend schools in the district who are not in program improvement, according to Carlos Navarro, HUSD’s director of State and Federal Categorical Programs and Compliance.
Only three schools in HUSD qualify as non-program improvement: Idyllwild, Cottonwood and Harmony Elementary. This year, the latter is already at capacity, so only Idyllwild and Cottonwood were options for parents to request a transfer.
“It’s a little surprising and a new challenge, but a change we’re ready for,” said Kraemer.
Navarro said this is not the first year HUSD has shifted some of its student population at parents’ request. But it is the first year Idyllwild will receive new enrollment.
“It’s good for Idyllwild. I take it as a compliment,” HUSD Trustee Vic Scavarda said. “These parents are concerned about the education for their kids and know Idyllwild is a good school.
“I give the parents credit for taking the step,” he added. “I hope they understand we get snow and weather.”
The NCLB legislation requires that parents be given the transfer option at no cost. Consequently, HUSD will bear the cost of bringing the Hemet students to Idyllwild, according to Navarro and Supt. Dr. Barry Kayrell.
Some of the students are in kindergarten and HUSD officials shared a concern about the length of the commute for students this young. Several are also middle school students, according to Navarro.
Adding new students raised parental concern recently about Idyllwild School’s faculty level. In early September, after the current school year began, district officials reduced the Ifaculty because of the overall low enrollment compared to other HUSD elementary schools.
Several Idyllwild parents were upset with the size of the fourth-grade class as a result of the loss of a teacher and even spoke out at an HUSD board meeting. Since then Scavarda has been talking to parents and school administrators. “Tom Dillon’s [the current fourth-grade teacher] class is way to big,” Scavarda said.
However, the arrival of these new students has resulted in the district reversing its decision. Former kindergarten teacher Michelle Adler, who is on a medical leave, will return to Idyllwild in December or early January, according to Kraemer.
Lisa Draper switched from fourth grade to teach kindergarten when Adler was originally transferred. She has agreed to stay with these students so they don’t have to suffer another change.