Regional Growth Leaves Schools Facing Potential Tough Decisions

October 05, 2017 05:48 PM

(ABC 6 News)—The region's growth is increasing several student body populations--faster than expected in some districts. Pine Island Schools is looking at the possibility of closing open enrollment for some classes.

"We want to be careful that we're not growing too fast, especially with the open enrollment piece," said Pine Island Superintendent Tamara Berg.


Berg said enrollment is up about 59 students at the elementary school.

"Nothing has been determined at this point, but possibly closing that down at the kindergarten level and then expanding from there," Berg said.

The district is designed for 1,700 students. The elementary school can hold about 725 and district officials said growth is happening faster than projected.

"When we put our preschool students in there right now we're at about 70 students from capacity in this building," said Berg.

Pine Island isn't alone--Triton Superintendent Brett Joyce said their district has been close to closing open enrollment as well but hasn't done it yet.

Joyce said about 100 students open enrolled to the district this year.

"This year if we got a high number of kindergarten students, we'd have to contemplate closing because we don't want our numbers to rise too high in kindergarten. We like a smaller teacher to student ratio," said Joyce.

With Triton being right in between Rochester and Owatonna, both cities continuing to grow--especially with Destination Medical Center, Triton School Board Chair, Jim Jensen said building new would be an option.

"I would rather look at that scenario than have to close our doors to students coming in. If we can make that room for them, that's what we'd like to do," Jensen said.

As for Pine Island's future, the district is actively following what enrollment is doing.

"Of course we would continue with all of the families that we currently have, so want to make sure that we don't have any panic out there with that," said Berg.

Berg also said this year will be a sort of gauge on the growth of the district--to decide if the growth is going to become a trend.


Marissa Collins

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