If you've noticed Crosby-Ironton school staff and board members with smiles on their faces this week it's not simply because school starts Tuesday.
The district received good news about student enrollment Thursday.
"We're just not used to this," said C-I Superintendent Jamie Skjeveland. "Some good things are really happening for us."
Throughout the summer, school staff members were expecting to have about 65 kindergartners start school this fall. Skjeveland said there was the hope that maybe 70 kindergartners would be enrolled if the district was lucky.
And then it happened.
Within the past week, large numbers of families have shown up at school to register their kindergartners for school. After Wednesday night's open house at Cuyuna Range Elementary School, kindergarten enrollment was at 91 students.
"We had an entire class enroll within a week," said Skjeveland.
Skjeveland said the district finance committee met early Thursday and recommended that the board add another section of kindergarten and first grade, where class sizes were at 28 students per class.
"They had an opportunity to do something for our first-grade students and they said we're going to do this right now, we're not going to debate this for a month or so so those kids know who their teachers are the first day of school," Skjeveland said of board members on the committee.
Jodi Stangel and Tammy Hawkinson, two teachers who were laid off last school year because of budget cuts, will be recalled. Skjeveland said there has been classroom reassignments for teachers in those grades and Stangel and Hawkinson will both teach kindergarten.
The district is using revenue generated from these new enrollments and the extra one-time $51-per-pupil funding allocated by the Legislature in May to offset costs to open these two new classes, said Skjeveland.
Now average class sizes will be at 21 students per class in kindergarten and 22 students per class in first grade, said Skjeveland.
While the district was projecting K-12 enrollment at around 1,100 students, Skjeveland said until the second or third day of school it's difficult to determine whether total enrollment has actually increased. Some parents new to the district often register their children on the first day of school. He said the district has added new students in the upper grade levels this summer as well but it's unknown if other students have left the district until after school begins.
Still, this is good news, he said. The school board was projecting an enrollment decrease that it attributed to the loss of jobs on the Cuyuna Range within the past year and the large senior class that graduated last May being replaced by a smaller kindergarten class.
"The school board, they're just not used to good news and adding teachers back and doing these great things for kids," said Skjeveland. "It's why they run for the board, this is what they enjoy doing, they want to serve kids. We're just really excited and proud and look forward to doing better this year."
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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