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Tuolumne County School Enrollment Edges Up, Higher Ed Spikes

Sonora, CA — Although official 2018 figures are not due out for a month yet, Tuolumne County’s Superintendent of Schools is sharing news of promising enrollment trends.

The current student tally for all the local public schools, according to Superintendent Margie Bulkin, is 6,171, roughly a hundred more students than last year. Describing the uptick as very promising, keeping it real she points to enrollments within the past 20 years, when Tuolumne County had perhaps 8,100 students.

However, for the past eight years, the number has held steadily at around 6,000. “We are not declining – I would say we have been stabilized around 6,100 for quite awhile,” she remarks. “It is so important to track enrollment because it helps us look at a lot of business and economic indicators for the county…if we were to dip below 6,000, then I would wonder what things are going on,” she confides.

High School Grads Grabbing Expanded Opportunities 

Pointing to a distinctly growing education trend, she enthuses that across California and perhaps across the nation, opportunities are opening improved community college access, as it is being much more recognized as a great value investment for students pursuing a job relating to higher education skills. Locally, through the recently instigated Promise Program in partnership with Columbia College, high school graduates can apply for free tuition there.

“We could not be more proud in our K-12 arena to open opportunities and remove barriers, particularly through the Promise Program for which 275 seniors from last year took advantage of,” Bulkin shares happily. “Also, in dual enrollment, we have 215 high school seniors who are currently enrolled in college while also attending high school classes…those are really promising numbers to celebrate students’ opportunities for career development… altogether that is almost 600 students.”

She reports the Promise Program breakdown by school as follows: 275 from Sonora Union High School district; 164 from Summerville; 178 from Bret Harte High; 18 from Big Oak Flat-Groveland.  Considering the overall number of graduates this past year from those school districts was 635, having 275 apply for the Promise program represents a participation rate of just over 43 percent.

Career Prep Is The Goal

The end game, she says, “We want kids to be able to finish their high school career and pursue a job right out of high school — or go into a college program where they can get the skills they need for a job that they want to pursue.”

For this reason, Bulkin says she is especially impressed with the current numbers of high school students taking advantage of the career pathways at Columbia College. After they graduate high school they are likely to become Promise students and take additional courses. She adds that she is also gratified to see rising numbers of those returning to complete their high school diploma studies through the county’s Adult Education Consortium.

Along with being proud of the county’s expanding spectrum of education opportunities, she stresses that high praise and appreciation is due to those at the center of education. “What makes it all happen is this incredibly gifted, talented person called a teacher,” she states earnestly.

Special Kudos, Snapshot Numbers  

Especially now with back-to-school time in full swing, Bulkin says that teachers deserve special credit for the role they play in advancing their students’ development. To read her myMotherLode.com blog and community back-to-school message in its entirety, click here.

The Tuolumne County Office of Education reports that initial public school enrollment figures across the school districts is as follows: Belleview Elementary, up 9 to 163; Big Oak Flat-Groveland, up 12 to 299; Columbia Union Elementary, down 6 to 489; Curtis Creek Elementary, up 15 to 456; Jamestown Elementary, up 52 to 386; Sonora Elementary, steady at 478; Sonora Union, up 5 to 1,084; Soulsbyville Elementary,up 14 to 544; Summerville Elementary, up 19 to 413; Summerville Union, down 38 to 633; Twain Harte Elementary, down 19 to 247. Foothill Leadership Academy is down 25 to 113; Gold Rush Charter School, up 38 to 479. The Superintendent of Schools Education Program is up 29 to 117.

Clarke Broadcasting contacted the Calaveras County Office of Education for initial snapshot figures. It provided an overall enrollment number of 5,341, which officials note is down 120 from last year.