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West De Pere shares January enrollment numbers

By Rich Palzewic
Staff Writer

DE PERE – Student enrollment numbers are down slightly in the West De Pere school district, compared to a year ago.

The membership count for January 2021 was 3,816 compared to 3,847 the previous January, which equates to 31 fewer students.

At the Monday, Feb. 15, school board meeting, West De Pere Superintendent Dennis Krueger said the decrease in enrollment numbers wasn’t a surprise.

“We believe many factors have contributed to the slightly lower membership count,” he said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused families to make different decisions concerning their child’s education.”

Krueger discussed three main scenarios occurring in the district.

“We’ve seen kids transfer to parochial schools, other online charter schools or parents are keeping their 4K students home,” he said. “Before the pandemic, we had approximately 40 more 4K students. The 4K scenario doesn’t surprise me at all. If you’re a parent with a 4K youngster, many have elected to keep them home for the year with the uncertainties of COVID-19.”

Although there was a decrease, the district is still well below the state average of a 3 percent decrease.

“This enrollment trend is being seen across the state and nation because of COVID-19,” said Krueger. “Some online schools have grown by 20 percent or more. Over the long term, we are a growing district, so there’s no doubt we’ll continue to grow. However, it will be slightly different than previously forecasted.”

Krueger also gave an update on COVID-19 in the district.

“Vaccinations for staff are scheduled to be available as soon as March 1,” he said. “We continue to work with Bellin Health to make sure our staff is set up to receive the vaccination once it becomes available. Those staff members who qualified to receive vaccinations under the 1A restriction have received their second dose. This includes our school nurse, health aides, therapists, individuals who distribute medication and provide first aid, along with staff who are on building emergency response teams.”

2021 Golden Apple nominees

Twenty nine teachers in the district were nominated for 2021 Golden Apple Awards, with two being selected as Teachers of Distinction: Jennifer Gossen and Toni Smith, both from Hemlock Creek Elementary School.

Each year, the Golden Apple Award program promotes community awareness of the quality of education in the Greater Green Bay area by recognizing high standards of professionalism, leadership and innovation in teaching.

Hemlock Creek had 17 nominees, while Westwood Elementary had four. The middle school and high school had four and three nominees, respectively.

Standardized assessment news

Each year, West De Pere participates in all required state and federal testing, but because of the changes that have been implemented this year in the district because of COVID-19, Krueger said participation in such required testing would be a hardship.

“Not only would standardized assessment not be a good use of student and staff time, but the results themselves will also be of no benefit to the district because they will be skewed based on the number of families who opt their students out of testing because of the inability to offer any type of remote testing option,” he said.

The board approved requesting legislators do whatever they can to grant waivers for standardized assessments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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