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About the List–Private Schools Give Parents Educational Options

In the midst of debates surrounding the value of the public education system, many parents are looking to private schools as a more viable option.

Many parents would choose a private school over a public school due to variety of reasons, including quality of education, school safety or focus on specific religious faiths.

As private schools gain more popularity, many schools focus on expanding its infrastructure to meet the needs of the incoming students.

San Diego Business Journal’s List of the Largest Area Private Schools ranks the schools by the fall enrollment in 1999. Altogether, enrollment at the 25 private schools on The List totaled 14,475 students in the fall of 1999, an increase of more than 4 percent from the previous year.

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St. John School, No. 12 on The List, grew to 510 students, nearly a 19 percent increase from the previous year, from 428 students. The school, in Encinitas, is a parochial parish school for the grade levels from kindergarten to eighth grade.

The school moved into a new facility in March 1999, which contains a computer lab, Internet access, television cable in the classrooms, teacher workstations, and phones/voice mail systems for the teachers, according to Jennifer Preimesberger, principal of St. John School.

“The school simply outgrew itself,” Preimesberger said. “It didn’t accommodate all the students for the families.”

– Moved Out Of

Portable Trailers

She said the school was previously located at the church in temporary portable trailers.

“Obviously, we didn’t plan to be in portable trailers for too long,” she said.

Preimesberger said St. John School will continue its infrastructure expansion. She said there is a “phase two” of the expansion, which will house the kindergarten classes, administration, a nurses/health station and a small kitchen. The phase two expansion is expected to be completed next month.

St. James Academy in Solana Beach, No. 25 on The List, recently held an open house for its renovated campus.

The renovation is part of a $2.7 million capital campaign at St. James Catholic Community, the parish which operates the school.

St James has 254 students, an increase of 2 percent from the previous year. It serves students from kindergarten to eighth grade.

“This is my first year as principal, but the staff tells me that the old school was constructed in the 1970s using the open space system in which there were no walls between classrooms,” said Donna Kruszona, principal of St. James Academy. “As you can imagine, one of the first requests by the staff was to have entirely separate classrooms.”

The school is designed around a centrally located library/media center with classrooms around the periphery. The classrooms are wired for two or more Internet-ready computers, and the kindergarten class will move from a portable trailer to the new school, according to a press release.

Suzanne Weiner, director of marketing at The Bishop’s School, No. 8 on The List, said the school added a foreign language computer center for Bishop’s courses offered in Latin, Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese.

– Resource Center

Opened In September

The center, Ellen Browning Scripps Davis Foreign Language Lab, opened its doors in September 1999. The lab contains 21 IBM compatible machines connected to the Internet. The Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation funded the foreign language lab.

“This lab makes language courses more interesting, and engages all of our students for the full time they are in the center,” Weiner said.

Students use Microsoft’s Power Point software and Internet resources to create presentations written in a foreign language and enhanced by pictures, music and animation from the Internet, according to Weiner.

She said the students could also create and maintain Web pages linked to the school’s Web site, allowing access to the assignments from their homes.

At the School of Madeleine, No. 10 on The List, a new 8,000 square-foot computer lab and library were recently completed on its facilities.

Donna Wittouck, School of Madeleine’s principal, said the computer lab and library is scheduled to open this month. The library has more periodicals, resource and reading materials. The computer lab has an additional 33 Macintosh computer stations and is connected to the Internet.

“Our times are changing as we need to upgrade our education system,” Wittouck said. “The system before was simply too slow.

“This is all for the investment of the future of the children.”

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