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Menahga School numbers increase

By Nick Longworth

The Menahga student population continues to increase, albeit at a rate slightly less than projected.

The 2014-2015 student body population for the Menahga School District began the year at 963 students, a measurable increase over the 943 students that were educated in 2013-2014.

While the district remains seven students shy of their projected rate of 970 students enrolled for this year, the current population numbers maintain a trend of steady increase that they have seen in recent years.

Since 2008, the district has increased in size in grades K-12 by 210 students.

Menahga Superintendent Mary Klamm says the student population increase is indicative of the growth of the community surrounding them.

“I believe that the Baby Boomer generation’s children are now having children and want to be close to family, so they are moving back to the area. Families feel that the Menahga School District offers an excellent educational experience for their children,” said Klamm. “Those same families tell other family members and as a result, when families move to the area, they enroll in our school. Family sizes in Menahga tend to average between six to eight family members, so when a family moves in, it has a greater impact on our enrollment.”

Klamm says that as a result of these families creating roots in Menahga, the district should expect continued growth in the years ahead.

“If you take a look at our elementary enrollment, it averages 85 students per class. If you look at our high school, the average is about 61. The growth has probably topped out in the elementary and is beginning to affect the high school,” Klamm said.

“We anticipate that the high school will grow more than 30 additional students next year and another 40 students for the 2016-17 school year.”

Although enrollment numbers can remain fluid throughout the entire school year, they often remain stable, while increasing occasionally through open enrollment.

Klamm says that open enrollment does not play a major factor in the steady increase in enrollment over the past half-decade.

“For the 2011-12 school year, open enrollment was capped in grades K-12. For the 2012-13 school year, the high school changed from a two section high school to three sections in grades 7-10. As a result, open enrollment was only closed in grades K-6 for the past two years,” Klamm explained.

“Closing open enrollment has not had an effect on the number of students open enrolling into the district. The main reason is because many of the families who are openly enrolled in Menahga have been coming to Menahga for many generations.”

And is any of this a surprise to Klamm?

“We expected to grow and we did,” she said. “What I am surprised with is the actuality of how much we are squeezed right now for space. We have no room for any flexibility, because all of the possible spaces are used up.”

The Menahga School Board recently approved the district to go ahead and try to pass a bond referendum for the district this upcoming year.

If passed, some of the funds allotted would go towards building expansion and renovation.

Nick Longworth
A graduate from St. Cloud State University, Nick photographs and writes a variety of stories for nearly every section of The Park Rapids Enterprise. His duties also include section layouts and online content submission.
(218) 732-3364