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NR District looks to expand course offerings

The New Richmond School District has some significant class offering changes in the works.

At Monday's regular School Board meeting, Director of Instruction Deb Heyerdahl reported on the five-year curriculum plan for the District.

Among the new classes in the works:

• Spanish language instruction for grades kindergarten through second grade.

• A second foreign language offering for High School students (possibly an Asian language).

• Accelerated language arts for Middle School students.

• A required personal finance course for ninth or 10th graders.

• Several new Advanced Placement courses in the High School, including world history, calculus and European history.

• A new veterinary science elective for 11th or 12th graders.

• Food science, forestry and fish and wildlife management electives at the High School.

Heyerdahl said the District will continue to expand its "Project Lead the Way" program that provides students with a solid background that will allow them to pursue engineering and related careers.

Heyerdahl also noted that the District is exploring the possibility to beginning a charter school focused on math and science.

Board members were impressed with the expanding opportunities for students.

Board member Chris Skoglund wondered if there was some way to "advertise" how much New Richmond offers to families in the region.

Promotion of those offerings could help New Richmond to attract more open enrollment applicants in the future.

Superintendent Morrie Veilleux reported that the District lost 79 students to open enrollment. Those students live in the district but choose attend school elsewhere. Only 59 students outside the New Richmond School District choose to attend here, leaving a spread of 20.

Veilleux said he had hoped that the negative outflow of students would be less this year, but a number of applicants decided not to attend New Richmond schools in the end.

With the loss of 20 students, Veilleux said the local schools lose about $130,000 in funding from the state. There are many ways the District could spend that extra money if those students attended here instead, Veilleux said.

And, he said, districts that attract more students than they lose can bring in even more money to improve educational opportunities.

"We need to work on that," he said. "Even if we could just stay even, it's a big deal."

In an unrelated report, Heyerdahl reported that the District's ACT scores and Advanced Placement successes are among the best in the region and the state.

She said officials continue to work on improving the success rate even though they are doing well now.