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NR school board reviews enrollment study

After approving Hazel Reinhardt to conduct an enrollment study projection model for the New Richmond School District last fall, the board of education was presented with the completed study while district administrator Patrick Olson outlined its highlights at the Jan. 15 school board meeting.

"For the past nine years, our growth has been 448, or 15.2 percent. That is overall and includes open enrollment and so forth," Olson said. "Resident enrollment increased by 324. Open enrollment is up overall. Bottom line, when you look at the next 10 years, we are projected to see an increase from 2.5 percent to 7.7 percent. When you think about the last nine years, we went up roughly 15 percent, when the range we had from the last study said it would be from 11 to 15 percent. That gives you an idea of what her projection model is."

With the St. Croix Crossing bridge finally completed, Reinhardt's 2017 study shows a wide range of possibilities, which are dependent on how many families and companies take advantage of the new bridge.

"The caveat that she gives in her report is the bridge being a question mark," Olson said. "It is really hard to be able to say what that is going to do. I love the data that we have, I think it is great. She also has an executive summary for where she came in versus her 2012 projections, which there is a plus-minus. She wasn't too far off, but there are some where it hasn't reached what her projections were.

"When we talked about the bridge coming in over the last few years, especially after seeing all the different studies done on how it will affect population, we talked about it being slow and steady. That's what Hazel says about our growth in her study."

"One thing I see in this study that is interesting is that families used to move at a younger age. Now, that move is being delayed," Olson said. "People are delaying marriage, delaying having kids and delaying buying houses. They are doing the city thing and then they have their kids and outgrow their apartments, but their kids are older. We are seeing an increase in enrollment at our later elementary grades, whereas, years ago families would move to a new community before their children were going to school to get them acquainted to the community before that. That has changed."

According to director of fiscal and building operations Brian Johnston, the difference between Reinhardt's 2017 high and low projections for school district growth is just 160 students. That equates to 14 more students at each school, which isn't a significant amount when it comes to building capacity, Johnston said.

"It is good information for us and certainly there will be more conversation in the coming months for us as to what this report means," Olson said.

Reinhardt's study also outlines the fact that births are down in St. Croix County as well as across the state. In addition to that, families are taking longer to form as well as to move out of the city which is affecting the age of the children moving into the school district.

According to Olson, the board will continue to discuss the study in the coming months and will break it down even more at an upcoming work session when they discuss district facilities.

Wold honored for service

The board honored former board member Marty Wold for his 11 years of service to the district. Wold was sworn into office in September 2006 and served as board treasurer for 10 of his 11 years. Wold filed non-candidacy papers ahead of the April election filing deadline.

With Wold's departure, the board was in need of a new treasurer. By unanimous vote, board members voted in Greg Gartner as the new treasurer during the meeting.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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