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School District has immediate space needs

While the Somerset School District referendum is an attempt to deal with the long-term needs of the District, there is an immediate need to decide on what will be done with the space crunch in the District for the 2008-09 school year.

The Board of Education has been meeting to decide what to do for space solutions for this fall. They have three options:

-- Add portable classrooms;

-- Rent space in the Somerset Industrial Park;

-- Go with larger class sizes.

Another possibility is going with a combination of these three solutions.

There are two buildings available in the Somerset Industrial Park, the buildings that formerly housed Lehmann Farms Foods and Metro Industrial Sales. Both buildings have more than 2,000 square feet that could be converted into classroom space.

While there are crowding issues at the Elementary School and High School, Rosburg said it is more likely that High School classes could end up off campus. He presented a possible scenario where half of the freshman class would take classes at the industrial park sites in the morning and the other half of the freshman class would take classes there in the afternoon.

There is no space for any more classrooms at the High School. This year's senior class has 107 students, while next year's freshman class is expected to be around 130 students. This disparity, plus any students that move into the District over the summer, leave the District needing more class sections at the High School.

Rosburg said it was less likely that Elementary School students would be moved off campus. The options at the Elementary are more likely either portable classrooms or larger class sizes.

Costs become an issue in each scenario. A portable classroom that could seat 24-30 students would cost $99,000, plus running electrical, water, heat and cooling to the building and the cost of utilities.

Leasing space in the industrial park could cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000, depending upon how much space is needed. There would also be a cost of converting this space into classrooms.

If portables were brought in, there is the possibility that two would be needed to deal with the growth, especially at the kindergarten level. If two classrooms are added, two new teachers would likely cost the District around $130,000 in salary and benefits, according to Rosburg.

If the decision is made to go with larger class sizes, those kindergarten classes could have 28-30 students per section. Rosburg said an aide could be hired for each of the five kindergarten classrooms, at an approximate cost of $105,000 for the school year.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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