SCHOOL BOARD: Options to be considered for growing school needs | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

SCHOOL BOARD: Options to be considered for growing school needs

Posted: May 4, 2012 - 8:21pm

Enrollments in Kindergarten continue to grow, but the classrooms and teachers don’t.

The Brainerd School Board Personnel Committee met Monday afternoon to look at options to alleviate the number of students coming in to area elementary schools such as Baxter, Garfield, Harrison, Lowell, Nisswa and Riverside.

“We have some concerns about where our elementary totals are hitting, primarily in the K-4 (grade),” said Superintendent Steve Razidlo. “We’re concerned at the ongoing crowding, especially at Lowell (Elementary School) and it gives us a lot of limitations.”

Razidlo said there are currently 68 Kindergartners at Lowell and 72 registered Kindergartners for the 2012-13 school, reaching 105 percent of the enrollment at the school. Harrison Elementary has also peaked at 110 percent of current enrollment with 48 current Kindergartners and 53 registered for next year.

Riverside was also a concern for Razidlo and his staff, as shifts in grades continue.

Razidlo also reminded committee members that these registered enrollments can fluctuate and are not complete until May or June, allowing for more or less numbers.

In addition to looking at hiring additional help, Razidlo suggested reexamining attendance boundaries and potentially moving the Area Gifted and Talented Education (AGATE) program from Lowell to open up more space.

Razidlo presented the committee with two different elementary options:

• Option A included the hiring of an additional third grade teacher at Lowell and a transfer of a second grade position at Garfield to Riverside’s lone vacant classroom. It also would provide an option for families in the current Riverside attendance boundary — Chestnut, Hastings, Red Pine Circle, Barrows and Greenwood — to move to Baxter Elementary and suggested moving the AGATE program to vacant fifth or sixth grade team or the music area at Forestview Middle School “to provide improved classroom and intervention spaces at Lowell.”

• Option B would also hire an additional third grade teacher at Lowell and relocate Lowell office, conference and intervention spaces to other rooms. The transfer of a Garfield second grade position and the voluntary options for people in Riverside attendance boundary to go to Baxter were the same as Option A.

The biggest concern for committee and board members was the relocation of the AGATE program to Forestview.

“I don’t like the idea of moving those first through fourth graders in the AGATE,” said board member Jim Hunt. “I would raise the question why not move the sections of fourth grade and start the process there. Then you don’t have really young kids in that (middle school) area.”

The committee echoed Hunt’s concerns, making a motion to approve the additional teacher at Lowell and the shift of one teacher at Garfield but to defer discussion on moving the AGATE to Forestview pending a study on boundaries and taking a look at using the portable classrooms.

JESSI PIERCE may be reached at 855-5859 or jessi.pierce@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jessi_pierce (@jessi_pierce).