SAUK RAPIDS -- The Sauk Rapids-Rice school district is starting the school year with fewer kids, compared to a year ago.

Superintendent Brad Bergstrom says while enrollment is up at the middle school, it is down at the high school and in the elementary schools.

Total enrollment overall we are down 60 and part of that has to do with the class that just graduated is larger than our incoming kindergarten class, and so that is part of the reason for the drop in enrollment.

Bergstrom says they were hoping for 325 kindergartners this year, but the actual number is 312.

Sauk Rapids-Rice has started the school year with no mask mandate in place. Bergstrom says they have experienced some positive tests and have communicated that to families, however, he says they are responding appropriately and there have been no red flags so far. The district is monitoring the numbers internally and countywide daily.

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A shortage of school bus drivers has been a top story to start this new school year. However, Bergstrom says so far their bus service has had enough drivers to staff all the routes they have in the district.

As for the shortage of workers overall, Bergstrom says they still have a few openings in their non-certified positions but they are fully staffed with teachers.

He says it is good to be able to start the school year with kids in the buildings and being able to participate in extracurricular activities, after all of the uncertainties last year.

There is just an excitement and the words that I hear quite often is "we're doing something normal", and so the fact that we are also being successful in the win-loss column that's just gravy.

Bergstrom says the construction of the new Pleasantview elementary school is still on track to open in August of next year.

(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)

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