Study shows enrollment gains at Marshall School District

MARSHALL – Board members received a thorough summary that detailed enrollment projections in the district through a “Demographics Study” presentation by Hazel Reinhardt at the Marshall School Board meeting Tuesday.

Reinhardt, a former state demographer, found that in the past 10 years, enrollment has increased 1.2 percent at Marshall. The district’s school age population increased 1.8 percent while resident enrollment at Marshall increased 2.8 percent.

“The Marshall Public School’s share increased but is lower than some comparable communities due to the high percentage of students in non-public settings,” she said. “The Marshall Public Schools are a net gainer among the various public school options.”

With all four enrollment projections showing increased enrollment, the projected increase in 10 years is expected to be between 18.6 and 23.3 percent, Reinhardt said, noting that the district will need more single-family detached housing units to house the projected enrollment increase.

“You’ve had a pretty substantial gain in the past 10 years,” Reinhardt said. “What’s driving this, is at the bottom end – the kindergarten.”

Trends in kindergarten through 12th-grade enrollment showed a slight increase, from 2,187 students during the 2004-05 school year to 2,214 in 2013-14. Those numbers do not include early childhood or Marshall East Campus Learning Alternative students.

The average class size for kindergarten through fourth grade is 171 students. The fifth- through eighth-grade average class size is 151, while the high school level average was 189.

Among grade levels, the biggest jump in enrollment numbers has typically occurred between the eighth-grade and ninth-grade year, when a good number of parochial and homeschooled students enroll in high school classes and activities at Marshall. This past year, a total of 34 students were added to the ninth-grade class from the previous year’s enrollment total. Some years, that number is closer to 70 students.

Reinhardt found that Marshall has a higher number of students in non-public settings (16.3 percent) than the state (10 percent), according to data from the 20-11-12 year. Of those in the Marshall area, 14.9 percent attend traditional schools, while 1.3 percent are educated at home compared to 8.1 percent and 1.9 percent in the state.

Also, 10.2 percent of students open enrolled at Marshall, while 6.1 percent enrolled out of the district.

“This study helps quantify some of our concerns about growth and how we manage growth,” Marshall Superintendent Klint Willert said. “We’ve had discussions in the past about the possibility of repurposing classrooms to meet the needs at West Side next year and the year after. Those discussions will have to continue.”

According to birth rates, Lyon County has been steadily increasing the past eight years, while the state birth rates have declined. In 2003, 292 resident births were recorded in Lyon County and 70,053 across the state. In 2011, 373 resident births were registered in Lyon County, while 68,416 were recorded throughout Minnesota.

In keeping with the trend data, the kindergarten enrollment then is projected to increase from its current rate of 184 students (2013-14 school year) to between 196 and 200 for the 2023-24 school year. Factoring in net migration and projected survival rates, the overall district enrollment is projected to be between 2,625 to 2,730 students for the 2023-24 school year.

“When you marry this all together and you produce projections, what we see is growth,” Reinhardt said. “You’ll see pretty substantial increases in the second five years. I believe this will happen because everything here has the signs of growth.”

In other action, the board approved the addition of a Marshall High School-affiliated clay target league team as a Category II activity. The decision was solidified by the financial commitment presented through letters of support to the board. Lyon County Pheasants Forever and Redwood River Sportsman’s Club pledged $2,500 per year for five years, while MidwayUSA Foundation pledged $1,750 per year for 10 years. Pheasants Forever Shooting Sports Initiative ammo grant has allotted $1,000 per year for five years, while Buffalo Ridge Gobblers-NWTF pledged $500 per year for five years as well.

In one of those letters, Nick Simonson, president of Lyon County Pheasants Forever, shared his confidence in addition to his financial pledge ($250 per year for five years) for the program.

“With a starting total of $8,500 allotted to this program by these generous groups and established grant programs, along with $1,900 in previously available funds, I am confident that this program can support a team of at least 30 student athletes in its first year,” he said. “With fundraising options available through area businesses, other untapped grant programs and initiatives, I am certain that this program can be expanded to include an ever greater number of participants in the near term – all while remaining cost-neutral to the school district.”

Four outstanding Marshall High School students were recognized for the Tiger Spotlight Monday, with juniors Sara Antony and Sam Marshall representing the district as ExCEL (Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership) award winners and seniors Jessica Oaxaca and Ryan Schultz representing Marshall as Triple “A” (excellence in academics, in athletics and in fine arts) award winners.

“They’re some of the finest at the high school,” Willert said. “They’re very deserving young people.”