Dealing with the decline

FROM LEFT: TRACY AREA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER SARA PERSONS, and paraprofessionals Staci Buysse and Karen Ziemke discuss issues Tracy Area Public Schools are facing during Monday’s declining enrollment discussion at the high school. Photo / Per Peterson

Group discusses school enrollment trends, what future holds

By Per Peterson

The red flag signaling the decline in enrollment at Tracy Area Public Schools has been waving for a number of years, and on Monday a small group of school officials and community members sat down to discuss what has become a persistently-negative trend.

Led by Tracy Area High School Supt. Chad Anderson, the group shared their thoughts and feelings about school-related issues for about two hours Monday. There were no decisions made, no motions to carry, instead the forum was simply the start of a conversation about issues that many small schools are currently facing. Still, Anderson, didn’t want anyone to walk away from the meeting under a cloud of doubt about the future of the schools.

“I don’t want anyone to step back and say, ‘Wow, we lost 75 kids and all of a sudden our fund balance is going to drop, what are we going to do?’” he said. “We’re fine.”

Activities Director Bill Tauer reminded attendees that TAHS is competing with other schools for students —  an undeniable factor that has contributed to the loss of students here.

“RTR is building a brand new school, Lakeview’s school is still pretty new, Wabasso is adding on, Marshall has new facilities, MCC has added on,” Tauer said. “And it’s not just the school; what’s going to draw those families here? What’s going to draw those families that move to come to Tracy versus Minneota, Lakeview, RTR. Those are challenges that we have.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.