The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 17, 2014

Bridges to eliminate sixth grade in the fall

School becomes K-5 in advance of district restructuring

(Continued)

Because Bridges, as a choice school rather than a neighborhood one, operates on a lottery system and always has a waiting list in the lower grades, many more families were told recently that their children will be enrolled at the non-traditional public school in the fall. The restructuring of the district will allow Bridges to eventually add more than 100 students, Courrier said.

The new middle school facility on the east side of the district will open in fall 2016, and that school and Dakota Meadows will operate as 6-8 schools. (Dakota Meadows will receive a new addition, to be completed by August 2016).

West and East high schools will serve grades 9-12, and all elementary schools in the district will become K-5 buildings. (Currently, Garfield, Bridges and Franklin have sixth grade.)

Garfield Elementary School is being renovated to turn the school from a sixth-grade facility to house grades K-5, and Bridges will be moving into that building when the sixth-graders are moved into the middle schools. The move is what will allow Bridges to expand its population, and the early transition of the sixth-graders has started that process sooner than expected.

“This was our opportunity, our chance to start the growth now,” Courrier said.

The growth will be staggered for a couple of years with two sections of kindergarten in 2014-15, two sections each of kindergarten and first grade in 2015-16, and so on. Eventually, when the school is in place at the Garfield building, there will be two sections of every grade in K-5.

Courrier said Bridges families learned of the plans of aligning the school to house grades K-5 because of the bond referendum in November, and half decided to make the transition early.

“They're planning ahead, and they're taking the opportunity for choice,” Courrier said. “With choice comes change.”

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