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Published April 03, 2013, 06:03 PM

Crookston Schools aim to stop dwindling enrollment numbers

Crookston public schools continue to lose students to other districts through open enrollment and the superintendent wants to see that change.

Crookston public schools continue to lose students to other districts through open enrollment and the superintendent wants to see that change.

Chris Bates estimates the district has lost more than 100 students just this year to neighboring districts. Bates says Minnnesota implemented the open enrollment program more then 15 years ago to increase competition among schools and make them stronger, but it may not have had that affect on all schools.

261 K-12 students go to school in Fisher. That number is more then half of the population of the entire town.

Suraya Driscoll, Fisher Schools Superintendent: "Half of our enrollment from other school districts."

Driscoll says most of those students come from the neighboring Crookston school district. Crookston Superintendent Chris Bates says the city's public schools continue to lose students to open enrollment in other districts. Bates estimates the enrollment decline of 100 students this year costs the district three quarters of a million dollars in funding each year.

Bates: "And clearly that is tremendously significant, we can hire an additional 15 teachers with the money."

The question here might be why are students leaving? It doesn't appear to be about Crookston's curriculum.

Driscoll: "I can't speak for Crookston's programming, I'm not sure but I know the majority of kids that come here for the small, it's because we are small.

Bates says Crookston's size might be overexaggerated.

Bates: "We have data from 17 schools in our area and our class sizes fit very favorably with the schools around us."

While there may not be a quick fix to the issue, Bates says something needs to be done.

Bates: "A better job of asking parents to check us out, truly take a look at what our test scores are, what are our class sizes are."

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