Column: District 518 looks forward as enrollment risesIt seems that around the state of Minnesota and even in rural America, only a few districts are experiencing an increase of students. Worthington has experienced a growth of 460 students since 2006 and is projected to experience an increase of another 244 students (conservative) over the next four years.
By: John Landgaard, District 518, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The article this week was originally planned to discuss the strategic plan of the district, but due to some conversations over the last week the article has changed to the district’s enrollment and potential needs for space, which is probably a good lead into a later article on the future plans of the district that will be guided by the strategic plan.
It seems that around the state of Minnesota and even in rural America, only a few districts are experiencing an increase of students. Worthington has experienced a growth of 460 students since 2006 and is projected to experience an increase of another 244 students (conservative) over the next four years. This increase does not take into account other influences such as open enrollment, increased available housing, current business expansion or new business expansion. As District 518 continues to see this growth, it is creating some space issues not only for classrooms, but areas like the cafeteria, gymnasium and music for example.
One might ask the question related to years past when overall class size was around 300 students per grade, but back then special education was provided in a different manner, computers did not play a role in education and the general education of students was different. With the expectations of the current educational process the parents and community would like to see low class sizes, quality of education and a school that provides quality opportunities for all children. This is why the school board has made it a priority to maintain a low teacher-to-student ratio, particularly in the lower elementary grades. Currently, the elementary has grade section sizes between 20 to 25 students, and in kindergarten they have assistance from a full-time paraprofessional. Due to building space, though, this may change in the future due to the limited space and need for classrooms (lower section numbers), which will not help with the support spaces like the cafeteria or gym.
Here is a breakdown of the current enrollment:
Elementary: Kindergarten 244, First Grade 205, Second Grade 216, Third Grade 199, Fourth Grade 195.
Middle School: Fifth Grade 170, Sixth Grade 160, Seventh Grade 214, Eighth Grade 178.
High School: Ninth Grade 203, 10th Grade 170, 11th Grade 195, 12th Grade 178, ALC 74.
So, the district enrollment on Oct. 1, 2011, was 2,599, and since that time we have had a number of new registrations that has increased the enrollment to 2,637 students. As District 518 continues to grow, we would like to ensure the parents that it is priority of the school board to maintain low teacher to student ratio and provide a quality education for all students. We have wonderful teachers that are working extremely hard to help all students achieve and succeed through a variety of opportunities in the classroom and extra activities.
As the district continues to address the future and plan for the needs of the students, parents and the community we would like to encourage you to ask questions in order to have the necessary facts about District 518. Likewise, the need for additional space will be discussed over the next few months with a draft plan being completed in March of 2012.
District 518 has been extremely thankful for all of the continued support, pride and spirit of the community and looks to continue this strong tradition by developing a long-term plan that can address the needs of students. As a person just told me recently, “We want to have quality programs with exceptional people to support not only the school but the area as a whole, this includes facilities that can provide the necessary opportunities for the students and community.”
Thank you for having the expectations that will build District 518’s future!
John Landgaard is the District 518 superintendent.