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Warroad closes school building as enrollment drops

By Ryan Bakken

Forum News Service

WARROAD — This fall, all of Warroad School’s classes will be under the same roof for the first time since 1986.

The reasons are a declining enrollment anda subsequent need to cut costs by about $500,000.

One cost-saving move by the school board has been to close what is popularly known as the "elementary school," but is a building that has served a variety of grade levels over almost 100 years. In the past year, the school located downtown near the Warroad River wasa home only to early childhood programming.

The original structure was built in 1918, with additions coming in 1951, 1956 and 1967. From 1967 until 1986, it was a K-12 building.

But a high school was added for the 1986-87 school year anda middle school was built in 1991 as enrollment soared.

The school system reacheda peak of 1,570 students in grades K-12 in the 1995-96 school year.

"We grew with the expansion of Marvin Windows in the 1980s and 1990s," Superintendent Craig Oftedahl said. "As those families graduated their children, we didn’t have as big of an influx of students.

"The parents are still there and the people are still working, but we just don’t have the student population. We’re hoping that eventually the cycle will turn over, and we’ll see more students down the road."

This fall’s estimated enrollment is 990. The last time the number was below four figures was the 1985-86 school year.

"We’re anticipating that for at least for 5-7 years, one school will be able to handle all our students," Oftedahl said.

Forum News Service

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