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Crosslake: School board adds second kindergarten class for 2019-20 year

Echo Journal file photo.

The Crosslake Community School Board added a second kindergarten classroom for the 2019-20 school year during its regular meeting Monday, April 8, to accommodate an influx of kindergarten enrollment applications.

This foregoes the lottery policy typically put in place, admitting all kindergarten applicants up to this point and leaving room for more.

Adding a kindergarten classroom will require hiring another teacher and outfitting the current "flex room" with requirements for a full classroom.

As the school policy stands, there are 19 openings for kindergarten enrollment next year that would be decided by a lottery containing all enrollment applications submitted by the deadline. Those not selected by the lottery and those who apply after the deadline would be placed on a waiting list.

Board chair Lori Scharenbroich said the school closed the application window with 23 kindergarten applications submitted, and has received two more following that deadline. School business manager Jodi Schott said this is very early to already be surpassing enrollment expectations, and she expects several more applications to come in over the course of the summer.

Because of this significant bubble of kindergarten applications, the board showed interest in finding a means to accommodate all interested families rather than turning away so many and limiting enrollment via the lottery.

"What a great problem to have," said board member Kysa Corbett. "This is earlier than we wanted to have this conversation, but how great that we get to have this conversation."

Board member Mitchell Swaggert agreed that the board had anticipated and welcomed potential growth.

"What's happening is exactly what we wanted to happen," he said.

Scharenbroich, along with Director Todd Lyscio, presented the board with possible options for accommodating these extra students. Initially, the two considered creating different combinations of multi-age classrooms, including a combination pre-kindergarten/kindergarten room, or two kindergarten/first grade classrooms and separating second graders into their own class.

Board member Lisa Steffen said she felt that simply rearranging the age groups within the same number of classrooms was not advantageous because the number of students in each room would still be "maxed out."

Many board members echoed that small class sizes are a significant draw for families looking to enroll, and they did not want to push those limits.

Board member Mara Powers said she wanted confirmation that the school could financially support an extra teacher and classroom.

"I have no doubts in this board, in our staff and teachers to make it work and have a positive experience," said Powers. "I just want to make sure the financial piece is good."

Schott and Joe Aliperto, with Dieci School Finance, were both present at the meeting to confirm that the additional students enrolled would help even out the cost of another salary.

With the current enrollment numbers, each kindergarten classroom will have 12 students. The board expects more applications in the coming months that will increase those class sizes as well.

Now that an extra class has been approved, the board will work with school staff to navigate the logistics of preparing for the coming school year, including hiring a new teacher.

In other business, the school board:

• Approved Shane Gordon as the new community board member. Gordon became the eighth board member as the first action item of the meeting, and participated in discussion and votes going forward.

• Approved an update on Policy 102 regarding equal educational opportunity for all students and a prohibition on discrimination.

• Approved an update to Policy 801 regarding equal access to secondary school facilities for students wishing to religious, political or philosophical meetings outside of instructional hours.

• Confirmed the academic calendar for the 2019-20 school year. The board recognized that the week of parent-teacher conferences may be changed with an amendment at a later time.