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With the start of school less than a month away for Alachua County Public School students, district and school staff are urging parents who have not yet registered their children to do so as soon as possible.

Classes begin Monday, Aug. 22, and it’s expected that hundreds of families will wait until that day or even later to register their students.  That means long lines in school front offices across the county.

“By waiting until the last minute, parents will almost certainly face big crowds and very long waits,” said public information officer Jackie Johnson.  “Middle and high school students may also miss out on getting the courses they want because they’re already full.”

Complicating the situation is Florida’s class size law, which went into full effect during the last school year.  Under the law, core academic classes in grades K-3 are limited to no more than 18 students, grades 4-8 are limited to 22 students and in high school the limit is 25 students.  Districts will be fined for every student over the limit in each classroom.

“The law definitely limits the principals’ scheduling flexibility, which makes having an accurate student count before school starts that much more critical,” said Karen Clarke, the district’s director of secondary curriculum.

Even without the class size requirements, late arrivals create a major headache for schools, teachers and their fellow students.

“If principals don’t know how many students are coming, they won’t know how many teachers they’ll need or how many class sections to schedule,” said Clarke.  “When students register late, teachers and students often have to be moved around to accommodate them, and that can be very disruptive.”

Parents need to register if their child will be entering an Alachua County public school for the first time (including students entering kindergarten) or if they have moved to a different school zone within the county.  Families new to the district should go to the child’s zoned school with documents including the child’s birth certificate, Social Security card, proof of a recent physical, proof of immunizations and two proofs of primary residence.  Records from previous schools are useful, but not required.  Those who’ve moved within the district will need to take just the two proofs of residence to the new school.

Local schools are open Monday through Thursday during the summer.  Typically the best time to register a child is between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Parents who aren’t sure which school their child is zoned for or who need more information can contact the district’s zoning office at 352-955-7700.