South has nine sections of kindergarten this year, and seven sections each of first and second grade. With another large class of kindergartners expected next fall, classrooms may have to be divided or class sizes may have to be increased to accommodate the growth.
“We're already looking at where to add another classroom next year,” Doherty said.
Olson said families with parents who are ages 25 to 40 are the fastest-growing demographic in St. Peter. They're drawn to the “great community,” he said, which has nice parks, a newer community center and “really good schools.”
“And it's a good location,” Olson said. “The other huge factor is the regional growth that the whole Mankato area is experiencing, and we're simply tied into that.”
Olson said district enrollment has grown by more than 150 students in the last five years. With a projected growth of 1 to 2 percent annually, the district should have between 200 and 400 more students in the next 10 years, he said.
“So we really believed it was time to take a look at how do we handle that growth,” Olson said.
Bond being considered
A 50-person facilities task force convened in January and conducted an in-depth study. The primary conclusions included addressing overcrowding issues in the lower grades; having all early childhood programs together (they are at three locations now); modernizing or finding a new facility for dealing with inadequate recreation areas at the middle/high school level; dealing with district safety and security at the buildings; and exploring the possibility of adding a new building.
Olson said adding a new high school building and shifting other grades and programs within the existing buildings makes the most sense if the district were to move ahead with a new building plan.
The district is working with construction consultants and architects to develop a potential plan for a new facility and for repurposing existing buildings. In February a community survey will be conducted to gauge whether a bond referendum would be supported.