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Bumper crop of kindergarteners

There might not yet be cause to call it an upward trend, but Detroit Lakes School Board members were smiling Monday when they learned that the projected kindergarten enrollment for the 2006-07 school year was over 200 -- to be precise, 203.

If those numbers hold out, there will be a need to add another section of kindergarten, and consequently, to hire another teacher, noted Superintendent Mark Adams.

"We have already posted the position -- we don't want to wait until school starts," Adams said Tuesday. "Once we have confirmation (that enrollment has exceeded 200), we will begin the interview process."

Confirmation will come in the form of student registration forms completed by parents, he added.

"This is a very good scenario -- we're excited," Adams continued. "We budgeted for 183 students this year, and right now, we're sitting at 203 (unofficially)."

Though these numbers are still tentative, Adams said, he's feeling a sense of "conservative optimism" that this could mean current declining enrollment trends are slowing.

"Our kindergarten class has been significantly larger the past couple of years," he said. "It would be wonderful to see the numbers back at 200 (average grade size)."

Despite his optimism, however, Adams said this news does not mean the district should stop looking at ways to collaborate and share resources with neighboring districts whenever practical.

"We need to be more efficient -- to find ways of sharing services and staff that will lead to the reallocation of fiscal resources back into the classroom," he said. "In times of shrinking resources, we need to be effective and efficient in all of our services."

The school board approved Adams' request to proceed with the process of hiring a new kindergarten teacher, pending confirmation of enrollment numbers.

In other business, the board approved a report from Food Services Director Duane Dunrud and Business Manager Richard Lundeen on school lunch menu prices and food services for 2006-07.

Because the district is expected to show a surplus in the food services fund for the third consecutive year, Dunrud said no increases in lunch or breakfast prices were recommended for 2006-07. Participation in the school lunch program last year was 72 percent.

In addition, the district received $173,906 in revenue from catering agreements with Minnesota State Community & Technical College, Mahube Headstart and the Community Education Latchkey program.

Lundeen also reported during the meeting that the Detroit Lakes School District had received a check for a little over $44,000 as its share of a settlement between Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota and "big tobacco" companies from the State of Minnesota's class action tobacco lawsuit. BCBSM received a total of $269 million; Detroit Lakes' share of that pot was based upon its participation in a cooperative health insurance program through Lakes Country Service Cooperative.

The money will be allocated to a reserve account set aside for future employee wellness activities, minus $1,000-$1,500 that will be used to purchase additional nursing equipment for the district such as wheelchairs, otoscopes, crutches and an ear thermometer.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454