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Ely Elementary at capacity
August 10, 2018

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The Rugby Public School District is experiencing considerable growth at Ely Elementary School. This school year we are expecting 345 students to walk through the hallways at Ely Elementary. This is very positive news for our school district. From 1990 to 2006, district enrollment had decreased dramatically. In 2006, Ely Elementary enrollment was at an all-time low of 234 students. We are now approaching enrollment numbers that date back to the early 1990s.

Increased enrollment presents challenges. Ely Elementary is at capacity with our current enrollment. We have now expanded three grade levels to three sections. This means we have added three additional teachers and classrooms over the past seven years. The latest section addition removed our computer lab and technology will now be pushed into classrooms. Currently, every nook and cranny is being used to deliver services to our students.

Every five years the school district completes an enrollment study through RSP and Associates. RSP studies our community's changing demographics and provides enrollment projections up to five years in the future. They have been very accurate in projecting our actual enrollment in the past. The current projection has Ely Elementary increasing to around 360 students by 2020-2021. This will force us to create at least two additional classrooms. At this point, we are out of classroom space for the projected enrollment increase. The school district will need to respond to meet the demands of increased enrollment.

You may have attended Ely Elementary in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s and wondering why we are at capacity when classes were larger at that time. As mentioned previously, our enrollment numbers have spiked to numbers that we haven't seen since the early 1990s. It is important to understand that education has changed drastically over the past 15-20 years. Prior to the 2008-2009 school year, kindergarten was an every other day program. During the 2008-2009 school year, kindergarten expanded to an everyday program. This increased the number of classrooms needed to support the new kindergarten population. Special education services have expanded to meet the varying needs of students. Specialized services for occupational, physical, speech and mental health therapies have expanded. Learning is becoming more personalized and more focused on the well-being of the whole child. In the past, it wasn't unheard of to put 30 students in a classroom. Parents want smaller class sizes for their children. All these changes in education require a space that fits our student's needs.

During the August 7th board meeting, the Rugby Public School Board voted to contact an architect to develop a concept and provide a cost that will address our needs at Ely Elementary. A stakeholder committee will be created to help develop a plan to address our space needs. Our enrollment growth shows that our community is healthy and vibrant. Stay tuned.

- Submitted by Dr. Mike McNeff, Rugby Public Schools superintendent

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