Cherry School Enrollment Increase May Prompt Expansion

By KBJR News 1

September 10, 2013 Updated Sep 10, 2013 at 9:57 AM CDT

Cherry, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- It was only 5 years ago that the St. Louis County School district was worried about a decline in enrollment at the Cherry School.

However, in the past 4 years the school has seen a 45% increase in enrollment.

A school board meeting on Monday night in Cook will explore whether the school needs to hire more teachers, plus discuss the possibility of adding 8 more classrooms.

Teachers would like to see the expansion because they say it would help keep class sizes under 20 students per class.

"I really don't feel the classrooms in the building were built big enough to handle more than 20 students. It's pretty crowded in there," said first grade teacher, Connie Zgonc.

Administrators say the increase is due to several factors including the open enrollment policy within the district, the integration of technology into classrooms and the quality education that students receive at the Cherry school.

"We received the 4 star ratings in our early childhood programs, I think parents are are attracted to that," said St. Louis County Superintendent, Teresa Knife Chief.

Robert Larson, chairman of the school board, says that the recent remodeling of the school may also attract families to the area.

"Our buildings are much more efficient, they're certainly more technology friendly," said Larson.

In 2009 the pre-K through 12 school had 312 kids.

This year that number has reached 453 students.

"It's positive because it means that what we're doing is good for our students because people want to be here," said Cherry dean of students, Kristen Cooper.

Teachers say they're excited about the opportunity to add more electives to the curriculum.

"You come here and you feel excited to learn, and you know that people are here that care about you," said the Cherry School Principal, Rachael Lehman.

If the board approves of the 8 room expansion, the next step will be figuring out if more teachers will need to be hired to accommodate the growth.

Elsa Robins