By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — With space so tight that some students have classes in a basement, a Mankato private parochial school is launching a $1.3 million expansion project.
“Right now we have kids in every available space, and we have some real growth coming up in the next few years,” said Risen Savior Lutheran School project co-chairman Jerry Tjernagel.
The K-8 school in West Mankato has 70 students now, and 100 more can be accommodated in the four-classroom addition slated for completion by August. Tjernagel said construction is expected to start soon.
Risen Savior was formed five years ago as a cooperative venture of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in West Mankato and St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Mankato.
The 280-member St. Mark’s started an elementary education program 35 years ago as a ministry of the congregation with a school built next to the church a few years later.
The co-op effort with St. Paul’s, which has operated a learning center for 17 years, increased membership supporting Risen Savior to 1,250.
Tjernagel said classes are now being held at two sites and the project goal is to consolidate operations onto one campus.
Risen Savior Principal Jason Rupnow said the additional space will allow the school to expand its reach to other congregations in the community.
The third-year principal said the school’s enrollment was fairly unchanging his first two years before taking a pronounced uptick this year.
A capital fund campaign has so far raised $900,000 of the project’s new-construction cost.
Risen Savior tuition for children of church-member families is $1,300 for a family’s first child, with lesser rates for each sibling. Tuition for non-member families is $2,600 per student.