FAIRMONT - Fairmont Area Schools has added a section of kindergarten and third grade in response to higher-than-estimated enrollment.
As of Friday, 149 students were enrolled in six sections of kindergarten. With additional students expected, the district numbers would exceed 25 students per class. An additional teacher brings the number down to 21 students per class.
In third grade, enrollment on Friday settled at 141 for five sections. That brought the student-teacher ratio to 28.2. Adding a section brings the number down to 23.5.
District officials say it is especially important for younger students to have smaller class sizes because they are learning to read. The reading level of third-graders is tied to state funding levels, according to Superintendent Joe Brown.
"It is so important to keep those numbers smaller in the K, first and second grade," he said. "My guess is that between now and next Thursday, we will pick up a few new students."
Brown said districts need to be conservative when making estimates of students during budget-setting meetings the previous year because schools cannot cut sections once they have been included. They can, however, add sections.
The sections added Tuesday bring the elementary school to capacity, with no more room for new sections.
The entire district enrollment is about 1,730, a slight increase over last year.
Ra'Keeta Pfingsten was hired to fill the new third-grade teaching position, with Trisha Vlaminck hired to teach the new kindergarten section.
In other business Tuesday, the school board approved a pilot project to transport 10 local Alternative Learning Center students to the facility's new location in Winnebago.
Minnesota Motor Bus already is scheduled to send six Day Treatment Center students from Fairmont to Winnebago daily on a 24-person bus. The district pays per hour, not per student, so including 10 ALC students is free.