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Busting at the seams: School board talks enrollment numbers, hiring minority teachers

WORTHINGTON — The first day of school is fast approaching, and many students have already enrolled in District 518.

During Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent John Landgaard told the school board that student enrollment is higher than projected. As of Tuesday, the enrollment was greater than 3,100 students.

“This week we’ve already enrolled about 20 students,” Landgaard said. “We have 120 more students than we did last year at this time.”

Landgaard also told the board that student numbers are still very close to what the enrollment projection study has shown. He said Prairie Elementary has more than 1,200 students, the middle school has approximately 900 students and the high school is expected to have 879 students for the 2015-’16 school year.

He also stressed that all schools in the district are over capacity and were not designed to hold the amount of students that are enrolled.

“There are at least 50 to 100 kids over what the designed capacity is,” Landgaard said.

School board members also discussed items they would like to see brought to the Minnesota Legislature.

Linden Olson said he believes District 518 needs to prioritize hiring more minority teachers. He has been speaking to Sen. Bill Weber about incentives to draw more minority teacher applicants.

“We have tremendous difficulty attracting applicants, let alone hiring them,” Olson said. “In cooperation with other districts and other legislatures, (we are) trying to find out if there are things that we are able to do to increase the number of minority applicants.”

Olson continued by explaining one of the proposals for help with this issue is for more cooperation between high schools and two- and four-year colleges so that minority students who may not want to leave their families for the full four-year degree could start their higher education at a community college and only move out of the area for two years. Olson also suggested these students could student-teach in their home district, in turn becoming more likely to stay in the community as a permanent and full-time teacher.

Landgaard said the legislative items need to be finalized no later than next month.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved an increase of budget for the ALC by $1,800.
  • Approved a 10-year maintenance plan.
  • Approved a $20 self-insurance plan for student’s tablets that will cover breakage.
Kristin Kirtz
Kristin Kirtz is the Worthington City and School Board  reporter for the Daily Globe. Originally from Olivia, Minn. Kirtz enjoys the small town living of Worthington. She attended college at Minnesota State University Moorhead and graduated with a degree in Mass Communication with an emphasis in Multimedia Journalism. Kirtz landed her first newspaper job at the Hillsboro Banner in Hillsboro, N.D. where she worked as an ad manager and reporter for the weekly newspaper. In her spare time she enjoys hanging out with her husband, visiting friends and family, watching way too much TV and when able, taking the time off to do some traveling. 
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