The Pequot Lakes School District reopened open enrollment for students in neighboring school districts for next fall. The district had closed enrollment last November shortly after the Brainerd and Crosby-Ironton operating levy referendums both failed.
However, open enrollment will remain closed for kindergarten classes next fall, said Pequot Lakes Superintendent Rick Linnell.
The school board Feb. 11 voted to reopen enrollment. Linnell said the district has lost 41 students this year and during a typical year, student enrollment would remain consistent because of open-enrolled students entering the district.
He said kindergarten will remain closed because the district is expecting it will need to add another kindergarten section already for next fall. At one time school officials projected 153 kindergartners for next fall but if the grade level remains somewhat consistent with previous kindergarten sizes, the district could count on having at least 130-135 kindergartners, said Linnell.
Linnell said nearby Nisswa Elementary School's kindergarten program being reduced from a full-time to an all-day, every other day program next year due to budget reductions in the Brainerd School District also is a factor, in addition to the projected large class size. He said the Pequot Lakes district is hesitant to reopen kindergarten because the district wouldn't want students enrolling for one year into its full-time kindergarten program and then returning to the Brainerd district the following year. He said district officials use open enrollment as an enrollment management tool and they don't want to lose or gain too many students too quickly.
The district's senior class is the largest class with 140 students. This year the district has 119 kindergartners, which is one of the largest kindergarten classes the school district has had, he said. Because the district receives more state funding for high school students, rather than kindergarten students, the district is losing some funding after the senior class graduates. The district is reimbursed at a 1.3 average daily membership rate for seniors compared to a .625 rate for a kindergartner, said Linnell.
"We have a big senior class leaving and a big kindergarten class coming in, but the money isn't the same," said Linnell. "It's a huge difference."
As of February, the district has 1,590 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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