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BEA schools study enrollment figures

By Staff | Mar 14, 2009

The current school year has yet to end. However, Blue Earth Area School District officials are busy planning next year’s budget.

Projected enrollment numbers play a big role in the amount of state aid the district receives and how many teachers may be needed — especially in the lower grades.

Administrators will be keeping a close eye on third-grade numbers, because this year’s three second-grade sections each had 24 students.

“It’s on the edge of being high and at a level where we may have to address it,” says Kevin Grant, Blue Earth Area elementary schools principal.

Budget cost was a big reason officials decided against hiring a teacher so there could be four classes of 18.

Because learning to read is considered important for second-graders, Grant says another section of reading was created with the use of a teacher from the Title 1 program.

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy says the district is studying the issue and looking at its options.

“Hiring another teacher or anything else has not been decided at this point,” he says.

A letter sent to the Register and signed “Parents” tells of their attempts in trying to work with school administrators to find a solution for class size numbers that they call ‘out of whack.’

Part of the letter read, “Our children get only one chance to learn the important basic skills necessary to succeed in life. Reading needs to be mastered by fourth grade we are told, so K-3 grades are essential to the learning process. This is a very sad situation.”

Grant says the average class size in the state is 22-26 students. He says trying to determine an ideal number is hard to do because it partly depends on the maturity of the students. He also says no parents have contacted him with concerns over class size.

Blue Earth parents were given the option of sending their children to the Winnebago Elementary School.

“We try to work with parents and help them meet their needs,” says Grant.

At tonight’s meeting, student enrollment projections are expected to be discussed.

Grant says administrators are always monitoring class sizes.

He says when a second-grade student moving into the district increased one section to 25, the district hired a para professional with a teaching degree.

“After Christmas we hired someone full time to work in all three sections. To help meet the needs of the students,” Grant says.