The Free Press, Mankato, MN

St. Peter news

November 17, 2013

St. Peter students need room to move

Facilities task force examining need for new school building


If a new school is pursued and a referendum passed, the doors wouldn't open for at least five years, leaving administrators, principals and teachers with the task of continuing to scrounge space for growing kindergarten classes that will keep matriculating through the grades.

Enrollment boom

Fall of 2007 was the last time major changes took place at South and North Intermediate to deal with the population boom. “Almost every classroom is moving somewhere new,” Olson said that summer.

A $1.2 million five-classroom addition was built onto North, which allowed the school to take third grade away from South. New science and technology labs were added to North, and most third- and fourth-graders became housed in a separate wing from fifth- and sixth-graders.

ECSE — which serves ages 3 to kindergarten who qualify for services based on assessment results — was relocated from North to South. That's also when South adopted the Stimulating Maturity through Accelerated Readiness Training program (SMART), which focuses on physical activities designed to stimulate the mind. Beginning that fall the school had two SMART exercise rooms and another creative playroom.

The changes helped alleviate the congestion at the time. But the kids have kept on coming.

“As time has gone on, now we've kind of been crunched again,” said Ytive Prafke, district special programs administrator.

The district has more than 1,900 students enrolled this year. In grades K-6, there are only two grades with fewer than 150 kids. In grades 7-12, there isn't a single class with more than 150 kids, showing the growth in elementary.

This year's kindergarten class has 165 students, which would have been about 180 had some not been pulled out for the Ready for Kindergarten program, Doherty said. That compares to a first-grade class of 141, showing the marked growth in just one year. (Last year 14 kids were pulled out for the Ready for Kindergarten program.)

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