HJ/EDMay 8, 2006

Montrose Elementary expands with district

By Laura Barta
Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District

With the success of a bond referendum in September 2003, schools around the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District grew.

A new elementary school is set to open in Buffalo this fall, and land was purchased for future schools in Hanover and Montrose. The present schools are overcrowded, and future enrollment projections keep growing.

Montrose Elementary has seen growth spurts over the past three years. In October 2003, Montrose had 273 students. By October 2004, enrollment jumped to 320 students, an additional 47 students. This school year, enrollments slowed down, adding 14 students for a total of 334.

The new addition to the school opened at the start of this school year, just in time to accommodate the additional 60 or more students from the past two years. The addition included two classrooms, a multi-purpose room (gym space), rest rooms, a new front office, and space for Early Childhood Family Education and KidKare.

“The new space has been wonderful,” Montrose Elementary Principal Gary Theis said. “The new addition couldn’t have come at a better time. All classroom spaces are in use, and now we have the space to accommodate more lunch periods, offer physical education classes during lunch time, and house our wide variety of music programs.”

The new classrooms house two of seven kindergarten through first grade sections of students. Montrose is one of only two schools in the district that offers all day kindergarten (Discovery is the other school).

The music room was remodeled to provide better classroom space for choir, band, orchestra, and the Suzuki Program. The Suzuki Program is unique to Montrose, offering elementary-age students the opportunity to learn a string instrument, not by reading notes, but by listening to how notes sound.

Community Education programs have also benefited from the new addition. With classrooms moving into new spaces, a full-size classroom became available for Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) and KidKare (before and after school school-age child care program) to share.

KidKare occupies the space before and after school, and ECFE offers classes in the space during the school day. Both have seen growth in their programs.

In the past two years, KidKare has doubled from under 20 to more than 40 students.

ECFE grew from 14 children to 34. The program has always offered a variety of classes, but only about two have been running.

This year, there have been enough children to sustain six classes, with more class options to be offered this fall.

“These programs were greatly needed due to the larger number of young families with small children moving into our area,” Theis said. “It’s a great asset to have these young children in our building for the ECFE classes. It’s a great learning opportunity that will help prepare them for kindergarten.”

There has also been an increase in the number of Community Education youth enrichment and adult programs offered.

“We are finding some early success with class offerings in Montrose and anticipate offering more in the future,” Community Education Director Chuck Klaassen said. “It will be a growing process to get people used to classes happening in Montrose and not just in Buffalo.”

Land was also purchased in Montrose for the use of a future school.

The district purchased about 64 acres of land on County Road 12 and 107; also known as the Virgil Solberg farm. It has yet to be determined if that property will someday hold an elementary or middle school.

Buffalo Community Middle School (BCMS) and Buffalo High School (BHS) also received building additions as a result of the bond referendum. BCMS needed to accommodate for their growing enrollments.

In October of 2003, BCMS housed 1,225 students. By October 2005, the student population had grown to 1,305; an additional 80 students.

Four classrooms and a science room, two music rooms, locker space, and rest rooms were just some of the additions at BCMS.

BHS also underwent some major construction. Classrooms were added for technical education, ceramic arts, orchestra, and agriculture. The cafeteria was expanded in both the food service and dining areas.

With the addition of a six-court activity center, BHS gained some much needed physical education space. The multi-use facility will be available to the public through Community Education programs when it is not in use by students.

From 5,190 students in 2003-04, to 5,390 in 2005-06, the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District is growing.

Montrose Elementary will continue to add to that growing number as the city becomes more and more developed.

Growing communities equal a growing school district.

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