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Spike In Kindergarten Students Hits Mpls. Schools

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(credit: CBS) Holly Wagner
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a big day for a few thousand 5- and 6-year-olds in Minneapolis.

Today is the first day of school for kindergarteners. All of the other students in the district started earlier this week.

At Kenny Community School, they’re seeing a boom in kindergarteners this year.

Teacher Luann Mishler is preparing for a full house this school year: 30 kindergartners, the fullest class she’s had yet.

“We’ve had way more kids register early this year than in the past,” she said.

Luann is one of two all-day kindergarten teachers at Kenny Community School in South Minneapolis. The other teacher will have 31 students in her class.

It represents a boom in students Kenny Community School principal Bill Gibbs couldn’t have predicted five years ago.

“We were losing kids left and right and we had to do something about it,” he said.

There had been talk the school would be closed, but Gibbs credits the teachers and higher academic standards. Last year, the school had the best reading and math scores in the district.

The growing number of kids in the neighborhood is something other schools nearby are experiencing too.

“Across south Minneapolis, we’re having to reopen schools. The kindergarten enrollment is way up,” said Gibbs. “All my surrounding schools are full in kindergarten and first grade. It’s a good problem to have.”

The district re-opened Folwell and is set to reopen Howe Elementary next fall.

Gibbs said some parents aren’t thrilled about the bigger class sizes.

“Some of them will raise their eyebrows but it seems to work out,” he said.

Mishler says it’s not about the number, but what the students take home at the end of the day.

“They’re ready, they’re like sponges they jump in and it works,” she said.

Minneapolis School District decided to reopen two schools because Census 2010 data showed the enrollment will continue to grow over the next few years.

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