First day of school in La Canada

Third grader Willa Chandler's mother takes a photo of her in front of the school sign on the first day of school at Paradise Canyon Elementary School in La Cañada Flintridge on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / August 13, 2014)

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Nearly 4,100 students returned to La Cañada Unified campuses Tuesday as the district started what officials hope will be a robust and promising 2014-15 school year.

Supt. Wendy Sinnette, speaking Monday evening at the last school board meeting of the summer season, reported the district’s enrollment at 4,096 — about 40 students higher than the same time last year.

“Our total anticipated enrollment is actually seeing an increase, which is very exciting,” Sinnette told the board.

Solid enrollment, coupled with funding from the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation, inspired the creation of a few additional classes, which helped lower the student-to-teacher ratio among some grade levels.

For example, most sixth-grade class attendance will be capped at 30 students, with some having as few as 25. La Cañada High School’s ninth-grade classes will likely be kept at 24 to 26 students apiece.

“We’ve got low class sizes, strong enrollment and not a classroom to spare — that’s a good thing,” Sinnette said Monday.

Patty Hager, assistant superintendent of human resources, said the district hired 34 new certificated staff this year, including a school nurse and five teachers on special assignment, who will help teachers integrate technology into the classroom. Three new custodians and 12 kindergarten aides were also hired, filling classified support positions that had been cut during the recession.

At Paradise Canyon Elementary School, parents snapped photos of first-day kindergartners in front of the school sign as board members made rounds at PTA meetings throughout the district.

LCHS students, more independently inclined, arrived on campus solo and welcomed old friends with hugs and warm greetings, stopping to chat with teachers and administrators.

“I’m just looking forward to a tremendous year,” Sinnette said.