Minneapolis schools face higher enrollment

Minneapolis Public Schools are hoping to expand or reopen several schools.

Diane Colonga of Lake Harriet School gives instructions to her second grade class before recess on Monday afternoon at the Lower Campus in South Minneapolis. Colonga's class is one of five second grade classrooms and is five students over the preferred class size of twenty six students.

Diane Colonga of Lake Harriet School gives instructions to her second grade class before recess on Monday afternoon at the Lower Campus in South Minneapolis. Colonga’s class is one of five second grade classrooms and is five students over the preferred class size of twenty six students.

Dina Elrashidy

More students will flood the hallways of MinneapolisâÄô public schools  in the next few years.
The local school district predicts enrollment will increase by more than 2,000 students by fall 2015. Minneapolis Public Schools proposed reshuffling and expanding schools to deal with the increase to the Minneapolis Public School Board of Education on Tuesday.
About 43 percent of University of Minnesota undergraduate students in fall 2011 were from Hennepin County, which includes all of Minneapolis, according to data from the Office of Institutional Research. That number has increased by 200 since 2006.
The school districtâÄôs proposal hopes to expand several schools and to reopen at least two: Howe Elementary School and Folwell Middle School. The proposed reopening of Folwell, which closed last year, will cost an estimated $5 million.
Another estimated $6 million would reopen Howe, which closed its doors in 2005.
With $16 million, Lake Nokomis Community School  in south Minneapolis would allow for 180 additional K-8 students by 2013, according to the proposal.
The lower campus of Lake Harriet Elementary School is set for an $11 million project to expand its facilities for 125 more students. Currently, the school uses portable trailers as classrooms because of the large student population.
The facilities situation is âÄúdefinitely not ideal,âÄù said Courtney Cushing Kiernat, a project manager for Minneapolis Public Schools. The trailers have been in use for more than 20 years, she said.
Before 2010 census data was released, Cushing Kiernat said the school district was unsure if the enrollment would continue to increase. The new data confirmed that the district needs more space for students.
Myron Orfield, director of the University of Minnesota Institute on Race & Poverty, said Lake Harriet classrooms are overcrowded with 30 students or more in each class. His son attends there.
Enrollment at Lake Harriet is expected to exceed capacity by more than 100 students in 2013, according to the school district.
Cushing Kiernat said the plans will help provide more stability and a better education for students.