Brittney Lofthouse — Staff Writer

Elementary schools in Macon County are getting ready to welcome the class of 2031, who will be starting school this fall. Kindergarten registration in Macon County gets under way beginning in March, with each of the district’s six elementary schools having their own dates planned for kindergarten orientation. Children who will be 5 years old as of August 31, 2018, are eligible for kindergarten. While some parents will be signing up another child, many parents will be registering a child for the first time and may not know where to turn.  Carol Arnold with Macon County Schools, answered commonly asked questions for new parents.

1) How do I find out what school my child should attend?

Elementary schools in Macon County are split into six different districts. Nantahala and Highlands Schools, and then four Franklin area districts — Iotla, Cartoogechaye, East Franklin, and South Macon Elementary Schools. If a parent has questions or concerns about what school their child will be attending, Arnold said that parents can call the school closest to their home and they should be able to verify their home address. Arnold said if a parent is new to the area or lives at a cross section of different schools and isn’t sure which school is closest, Arnold said parents can call the central office for more information on which school district their home falls in.

2) What should I expect from Kindergarten Orientation at my child’s school?

Kindergarten Orientation Days are scheduled at each individual school as follows:

Highlands School — March 13 at 10 a.m.

Cartoogechaye Elementary — April 13 at 9 a.m.

South Macon Elementary — April 13 at 9 a.m.

Iotla Valley Elementary — April 19 at 8:30 a.m.

East Franklin Elementary — April 27 at 9:30 a.m.

Nantahala School — May 3 at 8:30 a.m.

According to Arnold, each school is responsible for coordinating their own orientation day and while the set up and content may vary, each school goes over the basics with parents. Ahead of the actual kindergarten orientation day, schools request parents who are preparing to register their children this fall contact their school to complete initial paperwork and registration information.

Kindergarten orientation days are usually a couple of hours long and will provide incoming students with a tour of the school, a chance to meet teachers, play on the playground, and visit the classrooms to become familiar with the school. Snacks are generally provided. Depending on the school, a portion of the orientation may also include a short bus ride around the campus to allow students to experience riding a school bus.

Orientation will also include information from the school about what curriculum parents can expect their child to learn throughout the school year such as colors, shapes, and numbers. Arnold said that parents will also learn how report cards or quarterly assessments are conducted during orientation.

3) What does my child need to be ready for kindergarten? 

Parents of incoming kindergartners will need to provide the school with a copy of the child’s birth certificate (one the school can keep), a copy of immunization records, a kindergarten health assessment form, a recent verification of residency (a power or phone bill) and if applicable, any documentation regarding child custody.

North Carolina requires that all students receive immunizations for polio, Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP), Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR), Hepatitis B, and Varicella (Chickenpox). North Carolina does permit a religious exemption for immunizations.

For a student to be enrolled in kindergarten, all immunizations must be completed by the 30th day after enrolling in school. If a completed immunization record or Kindergarten Health Assessment form signed by a family physician is not returned to the school by the 30th day, the child will not be allowed to return to school until proof of the records are provided to the school.

4) My child will be riding the bus for the first time, how can I prepare them?

Depending on weather and the itinerary for each school’s orientation, incoming students may have the opportunity to tour school buses during Kindergarten Orientation Day. Parents will also be provided with information regarding bus routes during orientation. According to Arnold, if an incoming student lives in an area that has not been part of the Macon County bus route system before, parents can contact the central office during the summer to check for new information regarding bus routes once those are finalized.

5)  What afterschool care options are there available for my child?

While there are private options for afterschool care for children in Macon County, Arnold said that the Macon County School system provides the VIP program at each elementary school at a cost. Macon County Schools VIP program provides afterschool care at the respective school until 5 or 5:30 p.m., each day.