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Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 25, 2005

There they grow again – Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools

By Jenni Sebora

Just as the cities of Montrose, Buffalo and Hanover are growing by leaps and bounds, so is the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District.

All three communities have housing developments underway, and many young families are moving into these developments, which mean the district’s enrollment is increasing.

Montrose Elementary Principal Gary Theis noted that the kindergarten class at Montrose increased by 20 students last year.

“There are a lot of young families moving in,” Theis said.

The district’s enrollment has increased from 3,843 in 1987-88, 4,251 in 1992-93, 4,678 in 1997-98, 5,190 in 2003-04 to 5,352 in the April count of the 2,004-05 school year.

Each school’s enrollment spirals ever upward. As an example, Montrose Elementary went from 273 students in October, 2003 to about 320 students this school year.

To meet the needs of the increased enrollments, the district passed a $42.4 million bond in September 2003 that is funding the expansion of the district, including new buildings, renovations, updates and maintenance.

The passed bond referendum includes a new 450, k-5, elementary school in Buffalo to alleviate overcrowding at Parkside and Tatanka Elementary schools in Buffalo.

The new elementary will be located on Highway 12 and 10th Street and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2006.

The bond is addressing growth by making improvements to existing schools at Buffalo, Hanover and Montrose.

For Montrose Elementary, the bond is adding two classrooms, a multi-purpose room (gym space), Early Childhood Family Education space, restrooms, a new office and health services area, and storage space. There have also been mechanical and electrical updates.

And although there is an explosion of growth, Montrose Elementary continues to have good class sizes, averaging in the low 20s, Theis said.

All of the work at Montrose Elementary is virtually done. A new inside sprinkler system needs to be installed, and the additions and remodeling will be ready for occupancy, Theis said.

Hanover Elementary will have three new classrooms, a multi-purpose room (gym space), Early Childhood Family Education space, restrooms, storage space, and mechanical and electrical updates. Hanover’s work will be complete for the 2005-06 school year.

Buffalo Community Middle School additions and updates include, six classrooms, music space, student lockers, storage space, restrooms and mechanical and electrical updates.

Like the two elementary schools, the middle school work should be completed before the end of the school year, and also needs the sprinkler system installed.

When the additions and updates are completed at Buffalo High School, it will have four additional classrooms, music space, physical education space, a cafeteria expansion, student lockers and storage space.

Presently, crews are working on the school’s new activities’ center. The cafeteria expansion on the north end of the building will start this summer. All work should be completed by the end of the 2005-06 school year, Barta said.

The underlying theme for the district construction projects seems to be, “on time and under budget,” Barta said.

Projects that began last spring are quickly coming to an end, and others are firing up. The high school is in the middle of the expansion, and the new elementary construction will soon begin, Barta said.

Deferred maintenance projects have included air quality improvements, playground and parking lot repairs, partial roof replacements, handicapped accessibility updates and energy efficiency improvements.

As part of the bond, land has also been purchased in Hanover and Montrose for future building sites. The land purchased in Montrose is north of Montrose on County Road 12, at Baker Ave. SW. Both sites have enough land to build either an elementary school or middle school, Barta noted.

And it does not look like the district’s growth is going to subside in the near future.

Superintendent Jim Bauck noted in a school news article that during the Nov. 8 school board meeting, Director of Human Resources Moreen Lipsiea presented information on enrollment projections for the next five-year period, which did not indicate a slowdown in student enrollment growth.

Bauck noted that the most conservative model indicated accumulative student growth over the next five years (2005-06 through 2009-10) to total an additional 1,308 students, and at the high end of the projections, the district could expect an additional 1,431 students.

“While the growing pains experienced in the school district community present a challenge, it is truly a positive reflection of the district and our communities,” Bauck said.

“I would rather work with the opportunity of student and community growth rather than declining enrollments that result in the closing of schools and loss of programs and services,” Bauck said.

New course offerings

Several new courses will be added as part of a new arts magnet program, along with other kinds of offerings.

Students in the arts-infused program will be able to take paired, arts-infused core classes, which means that art will be incorporated into the teaching of paired English/social studies and math/science classes.

The classes are arts-infused English/American experience 9, arts-infused American literature/American history 10, arts-infused science/math 9 and 10, arts-infused foundations, arts-infused general biology, graphic design, intro to dance, dance I, stage acting and playwriting, graphic design, creative writing I and II.

The arts magnet program is open to any 2005-06 BHS freshman or sophomore students and those from throughout the seven-member district area.

The district is a member of the Northwest Integration School District (NWSISD), which is supporting a number of districts with start-up funding for the magnet program.

The other districts include Anoka-Hennepin, Elk River, Fridley, Rockford, Osseo, and Brooklyn Center

As students progress, courses in other grade levels will be added, 11th grade in 2006 and 12th in 2007.

The program’s 9-12 framework will allow any BHS student to participate in arts magnet electives and any arts magnet student to participate in BHS electives.

In other areas, the Buffalo Community Middle School is moving from a trimester system to a quarter system, which will allow the school to add sections of classes, offering students more choice.

It will also coordinate better with the high school schedule so teaching staff can be shared when necessary, Interim Principal Julie Swaggert said.

Barta noted that the school board approved the quarter system along with new elective classes to be offered in the system.

The new classes are: guitar, music tech, textile discovery, life survival skills, the artist within, art through the ages, graphics and woods technology and transportation technology.

Principal Nick Miller also received approval for new course offerings for students at the high school.

These classes include: intro to metals, college in the schools Spanish IV and AP statistics; along with the art magnet classes listed.

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