MANKATO — The Mankato Area Public School Board released district demographic data Monday, and all signs point to the need for a new middle school facility in the near future.
The district studied a variety of pre-school census data, including new births, families moving to the area who have registered for pre-school, and younger sibling information taken when older siblings are enrolled in a Mankato school, among other pools of data. That information supports enrollment projections released earlier this school year, which shows a huge boost to kindergarten through sixth-grade enrollment.
Instead of a 1 percent average growth each year, a 2 percent growth is anticipated each year over the next five years, said Supt. Sheri Allen.
“We are going to need the middle school as the elementary enrollment grows,” Allen said.
Kindergarten through sixth grade has 4,272 students this school year. In 2017-18, 4,773 students are expected to be enrolled in those grades, which is a 12 percent increase.
Compare that figure to capacity levels of elementary schools in the district. Hoover Elementary is 86 students over capacity. Franklin and Roosevelt are 17 and 16 students over capacity, respectively.
“You want to be at 90 percent capacity. You want to have some room for movement,” said Jerry Kolander, director of business affairs, who noted cafeteria space, commons areas and media spaces.
Allen offered Franklin as an example of pressure that could be alleviated by adding a middle school. With the majority of growth anticipated on the east side of the district, about 300 students would be moved out of Franklin at the sixth-grade level into a middle school building, which would house grades 6, 7 and 8.
Allen said the district will discuss the middle school plan in depth in April during the budget process.
In the meantime, the district has been combating issues with building capacity and class sizes by doing such things as shifting boundaries, which has alleviated pressure on Washington and Hoover, for example.