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District 192 happy with interest in new school

With a week to go before its first registration deadline, Farmington’s newest school is starting to fill up.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the district had received 77 applications for the still-developing school. It will enroll as many as 120. If more than that apply by the April 1 deadline the district will hold a lottery.

If the district still has space after April 1 it will accept students on a first come, first served basis.

The district is still working out the details of the new school, but the current plan calls for a focus on project-based learning — where students might work lessons from several areas into a larger whole — and a move away from traditional grade levels. Students would work at their own pace and advance when they are ready, not just because a new school year has started.

In its first year, the school will focus on students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades. District innovative programs director Laura Pierce said applications have been mostly even among the grades, with just a few more coming for fifth graders. Enrollment is almost exactly even between boys and girls.

The district has also gotten seven applications from students who either live in the district and attend school elsewhere or who live outside the district and want to come in. Pierce said students who live in the district will have priority if there is a lottery to assign places in the new school.

Applications continue to come in. When superintendent Jay Haugen discussed the new school at a Monday night board meeting he announced there had been 74 applications. By the next afternoon three more had arrived.

That makes Pierce happy.

“We’re ecstatic where we’re at,” Pierce said. “I feel like we’re right on target.”

Pierce said the district gets calls daily from parents who want to know more about the school.

“They like the fact that it’s innovative,” she said. “They’re excited that it’s more of a family-style model where students will know their teachers over a number of years.”

Teachers on board

In addition to identifying students, the district has chosen three teachers — or learning advisors, in the language of the new school — for the inaugural class at the new school. FHS language arts teacher John Stock, Boeckman Middle School teacher Katie Buelo and middle school art teacher Kjersten Tharaldson all accepted positions at the school last week. Those three will help flesh out details as development of the school continues.

Among other things, that means choosing a name.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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