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Willmar Public Schools' enrollment at the same levels as end of last year

WILLMAR -- Willmar Public Schools had 4,128 students enrolled on Sept. 11, according to preliminary enrollment reports.

"We're above where we were last year at the end of the year," Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard said.

But the preliminary enrollment figures indicate enrollment is about 22 students less than at the same time a year ago.

At the end of the last school year, Willmar's enrollment was about 4,000 students.

Minnesota's public school districts will send their first official enrollment reports to the state on Oct. 1. After that date, enrollment is recorded each month through the rest of the school year.

In the first few weeks of a school year, enrollment figures are less clear, Kjergaard said. Some students may have moved without notifying the district. Others may have registered here, but the district hasn't received their records yet.

In New London-Spicer, preliminary figures showed a student count of 1,478 on Sept. 10.

Superintendent Paul Carlson told the School Board this week that enrollment is higher in the fall and fluctuates as students move into and out of the district.

Last year, NLS had 1,504 students on Oct. 1 and ended the school year with 1,488 students on June 1.

Willmar also sees its enrollment shrink from fall to spring each school year.

After a school year ends, the state develops an official enrollment figure, called average daily membership.

It uses a formula to track the number of students and how long they stayed in the district.

The calculations take months and are revised several times. The average daily membership figures for the 2008-09 school year are not complete yet. The average daily membership is used to calculate state aid for schools.

Kjergaard said Willmar's enrollment shrank by 679 students from 1996-97 to 2008-09. The largest decrease was 129 students in 1999-2000. The largest growth was 5 students in 2005-06.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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