Little Flower School addressing declining enrollment
When facing declining enrollments many small schools often come to a crossroads when officials must take a look at combining classrooms.
Rugby’s Little Flower School Board has been looking into that possibility which has generated strong reactions from parents.
“We’ve had a few informal meetings with parents and staff members and the consensus seems to be that they’d like us to look at different options first,” said Suzy Kraft, board president.
Kraft said the school board and Father Tom Graner took a look at future enrollments and that started a conversation about combining grades. The board discussed how small is too small and at what point can they justify paying a full-time teacher for such a low number of students. There are 61 students currently enrolled in K-6 at LFS.
The decision is not driven solely by finances. The proposal was to redistribute the money saved by having fewer full-time teachers and use that money in different areas of the school such as teachers’ salary increases, salary for a religious education coordinator and the school’s general fund.
Since the discussion about combining classrooms began, many parents of past, current and future Little Flower students as well as faculty members have added their input on the matter. A recent meeting with an open forum format lasted for more than two hours while parents voiced their thoughts about how combined classes would affect their children’s education.
Kris Blessum, whose children are enrolled at Little Flower School, was among the large number of parents who attended the Jan. 14 meeting and said many good points were brought up. She thought the school board and Fr. Graner had an opportunity to hear many important concerns from parents about the proposed changes.
Christie Jaeger, PTO president, said that as parents and teachers they know their children are receiving an excellent education plus the spiritual guidance that so many value. From the standpoint of the PTO, they would like to see the discussion continue with their children’s education as the primary concern.
Jaeger added what the PTO can do is take a closer took at recruitment strategies because getting the word out about the great education students receive at Little Flower School may help more parents decide to send their students there.
Right now, only about one-half of the Catholic families within the parish with school-age children send their students to Little Flower.
Kraft said that LFS is like a family and she’s not surprised that many parents are concerned about the proposal. She stressed that for now the decision is still in the discussion stage and will be for a while.
The school board members and Fr. Graner have set up an informal meeting for Jan. 28 to discuss the matter further as well as explore other options such as recruitment and possible tuition increases.
Board members are encouraging parents to contact them with their ideas and concerns.
The next regular monthly board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 11.
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