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DL school enrollment looks good

Though the numbers are still tentative, Detroit Lakes School Board members got a little bit of good news at a special "first day of school" meeting Tuesday night: The district's K-12 enrollment is up by 26 students overall, and kindergarten numbers are particularly strong.

Education director Lowell Niklaus presented the first-day enrollment figures to the board at the start of Tuesday's meeting.

Niklaus noted that kindergarten enrollment as of May 2006 was at 181, while the Sept. 5 numbers showed 210 kindergartners in attendance.

Enrollment for grades 1-5 was also up, at 920 students compared to 873 last May.

"If these numbers hold, we'll have more elementary kids (enrolled in the district) than at any time since 2000," Niklaus noted.

High school enrollment also showed an increase, from 824 students last May to 884 on opening day.

Numbers were down slightly for the middle school and Area Learning Center, however. Detroit Lakes Middle School enrollment was at 581, down from 612 last May, while ALC enrollment was at 59, down from 65 students last May.

However, as both Niklaus and Superintendent Mark Adams cautioned, these numbers are only tentative.

"We're not going to rush into making any decisions (with regard to adding staff)," Adams said. "We want to make sure those numbers are stable before we make any recommendations to the board."

Niklaus noted that first-day enrollment figures often prove unstable because of several factors, most notably open enrollment or students moving out of the district.

While parents enrolling their children into the district must sign registration forms, Niklaus noted, those moving out of the district do not -- and thus the district administration does not learn of the move until it receives a request for grade transcripts, or an open enrollment request.

"The high school (enrollment) typically has the greatest fluctuation," Niklaus noted.

Adams noted that it had been a "fabulous" first day of school for Detroit Lakes.

"There's a lot of energy and passion... the staff and the students are excited to get started," he said.

In other business, the board set a special meeting for 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, to certify the proposed 2005, payable 2006 school district property tax levy. Though the regular board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 11, the state's levy figures will not be available in time for that meeting, and the board must certify its proposed levy no later than Sept. 30.

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