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Petersburg School District predicting enrollment growth


The Petersburg School District is looking at a potential enrollment increase next year, “exciting” news for a district that had been seeing a fairly steady decline until the last year or two, Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter said.

After speaking with preschools and health clinics, the district is looking at an estimated 44 kindergartners next year. It currently has 27 and is graduating 30 seniors this year.

Mitkof Middle School will actually see a smaller group, with 29 sixth graders going over.

It’ll provide “different opportunities for scheduling,” Kludt-Painter said, with teachers freed up to do other tasks, such as help offset larger classes in the high school.

Seeing a potential for enrollment growth is “a very good trend,” the superintendent said. A healthy school population provides the opportunity for more offerings over the years and a chance to hire back staff.

Stedman Elementary School came in a “little understaffed” this year. Kludt-Painter said there were tw o retirees and a resignation that were not replaced.

The district budgeted for 426 students in 2014-15, with 425 being the threshold for designation as two schools rather than three. The district ended up with 431 students but still wasn’t comfortable replacing those positions, she said.

“Now we find ourselves in a unique situation,” Kludt-Painter added.

They’ll likely hire a new elementary teacher. There are also two replacement positions to be filled with Teri Toland temporarily stepping in as principal and a third grade teacher moving to vocational tech.

The district will receive $5,880 per student next year per adjusted ADM (average daily membership), Finance Director Karen Quitslund said.

“The actual student numbers are run through a series of calculations and adjustments to arrive at the adjusted ADM,” she noted.

For example, 442 students would translate to an adjusted ADM of $1,168.45.

So the increase in enrollment will support a new teacher, Kludt-Painter said.

The district has been preparing for the budget issues it’s facing with this year’s legislative session. Kludt-Painter said the Petersburg School District is “sitting in a better position” than many others. It’s looking at areas such as supplies and materials, professional development and extracurricular travel to cut costs, staying as far away from the classroom as possible, she added.

She also noted that parents and the community have always been supportive.

As for why the district is seeing an increase in students now, Kludt-Painter’s not exactly sure of the reasons.

She said there might’ve been a baby boom five years ago, a Coast Guard influx, more people moving here with different businesses and/or former residents coming back.


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