Baby boomlet pinches Minneapolis schools

  • Article by: COREY MITCHELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 8, 2011 - 11:32 PM

The school district is seeing a surge of kindergarten students for next fall.

A mini baby boom in 2006 has the Minneapolis school district scrambling to find space for incoming kindergarten students.

A surge in 4- and 5-year-olds combined with a higher percentage of kindergarten families choosing Minneapolis schools caused a space crunch, said David Dudycha, a former Minneapolis schools administrator working as a temporary consultant.

As a result, more than 150 kindergarten students whose families registered them early don't have classroom assignments for the fall.

In the next several weeks, district staff will contact parents who didn't get their children in the schools listed as their first or second choice, to discuss their options.

Most of the students were turned away from magnet schools, said Courtney Cushing Kiernat, the district's project manager for Changing School Options.

Minneapolis had 6,442 births in 2006, 327 more than the year before, Dudycha said.

The district has moved to add a kindergarten class each at Emerson, Pratt and Whittier schools. Space also is available at Bancroft and Lyndale schools, staff told school board members last week.

If those classrooms fill up, the district could add another class at Emerson and open an early childhood center at Park View Montessori School for pre-kindergarten students. The shift would open up space for more kindergarten classes in southwest, northeast and north Minneapolis.

The increase in kindergarten students is part of a larger trend in the district's Zone 3, which covers southwest Minneapolis and most of downtown. Parents have raised concerns about enrollment increases at Anthony Middle and Southwest High schools.

The kindergarten crowding could swell as more families enroll children.

As a last resort, the district would add half-day kindergarten classes in several buildings. The half-day sessions aren't as popular as the full-day classes, for which most families opt, district spokeswoman Rachel Hicks said.

Corey Mitchell • 612-673-4491

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