Royalton School District 26th in growth in Minnesota

By Jennie Zeitler, Correspondent

Of the 321 school districts in the state of Minnesota, recent statistics have shown Royalton to be the 26th-fastest growing district.

“The district has grown 24 percent in 10 years,” Business Manager Mary Plante said.

Information from the state shows that from 733 students in 2003, the district expanded to 926 students in 2015. It would seem that the true level of growth is even higher, since enrollment dropped lower still after 2003.

“In 2006, the district’s total K-12 enrollment dropped to an alarming 664 students,” said Supt. Dr. Jon Ellerbusch. “The declining enrollment fortunately turned around in 2007, when the district decided to offer all-day every-day kindergarten to families.”

Ellerbusch believes that the all-day every day kindergarten was the trigger to turn around the falling enrollment. However, in more recent years, “it’s been our continuous striving for excellence that keeps us growing and attracting new families. We have added several new employees who operate at a very high level of expectation and performance. As we have grown, several new academic opportunities have become available to our students.”

The district recently added a gifted, talented and enrichment program for students in grades K-8. For the 2015-2016 school year, there will be full-time elementary teachers in art and Spanish. Project Lead the Way’s high school classes in engineering and biomedicine have been very popular with students.

“Several of them are now looking at pursuing career-related jobs in these fields, such as nursing,” Ellerbusch said.

Other area districts with high growth include Sartell-St. Stephen as the 12th fastest-growing district and Pillager as the 27th. Sauk Rapids-Rice is the 42nd fast-growing district during that time.

Anticipated continued growth contributed to the successful passage in January of a $26.1 million building bond for deferred maintenance, improvements and additions at both of the district’s school buildings.

At the same time that growth is welcomed, the district hopes that the rate of growth is remains steady.

“We hope the growth does not happen too fast; steady growth that continues to open up new academic opportunities for students is a good thing,” said Ellerbusch.

Royalton School Board Briefs

Other business coming before the Royalton School Board Monday included:

• Hearing a presentation on the Fiscal Year 2016 budget from Plante, with projected expenditures of $10.05 million, an increase of approximately $.4 million over 2015. That was computed without any increase in the general education formula from the state and with a projected 2.71 percent increase in enrollment and subsequent funding received for that;

• Approving the resignations of Rozanne Sobania as elementary paraprofessional (para), Tanna Stucky as Title I para and Ryan Snyder as seventh grade boys baseball coach and eighth grade boys basketball coach;

• Approving the hiring of Andrea Czech as kindergarten para, Brittney Bzdok,Tammy Willenbring and Megan Kleinfehn as special education paras, Dawn Hofstad as Title I para and Andrea Mathison as special education teacher, with Board Member Dale Lenz abstaining due to a possible conflict of interest;

• Approving an increase in the technology assistant position from 10 months to 12 months;

• Approving a targeted services (intervention/prevention) program for students in grades 6 – 8;

• Approving the Fiscal Year 2016 budget with projected revenue of $10.39 million and projected expenditures of $10.05 million; and

• Approving an out-of-state travel request for Plante to attend the Association of School Business Officials International Annual Meeting in Texas in October for $2,564.

The next regular Royalton School Board meeting will be Monday, July 20, at 7 p.m. at the high school.  Groundbreaking for the new preschool/kindergarten and cafetorium addition to the high school will be at the current practice field during Platte River Day, Saturday, Aug. 2, at 9:30 a.m.