As a result, the contract of probationary second grade teacher Danielle Johnson is terminated.

Although enrollment overall rose in Crookston Public Schools during the 2019-20 school year, there are some grades with smaller numbers than others, Superintendent Jeremy Olson told the Crookston School Board this week. One of those is the kids who will be entering second grade in the fall.

With a projected second grade enrollment of 69 students, Olson recommended that the number of sections for that grade be reduced from four to three in the 2020-21 school year. With four sections, he said, a classroom size would average 17 or so, and with three the number is pushed to the 23 range. Olson said he thinks elementary classroom sections, not including kindergarten and first grade, should be less than 25, so 23 for second grade is manageable. Olson said that number compares closely with average section sizes in third, fourth and fifth grades. (It’s long been the board’s goal to have kindergarten classroom sizes that are smaller than that.)

If the second grade projected enrollment grows, the superintendent noted, the fourth section would be added back.

Board member Dave Davidson, who usually speaks up when elementary classroom sizes start to grow, again questioned the wisdom of classroom sizes in the youngest grades being allowed to trickle up into the lower-20s.

“We’ve said this for years, that K-3 learning is the most important learning kids will do. We protect class sizes until first grade, then nothing. Why?” Davidson said. “Shouldn’t we be guarding that class size ferociously, K through three?”

Olson said the district tries to protect class sizes as much as possible through sixth grade.

As part of the second grade section reduction, the board also voted in favor of terminating the contract of probationary teacher Danielle Johnson, who teaches second grade at Highland School. Before the vote, Davidson sought confirmation that Johnson’s contract was being terminated because of the reduction in second grade sections and not because of anything having to do with performance. Olson, saying he was limited in what he could say publicly about a staff member, confirmed that Johnson teaches the grade that is being impacted by the section reduction.

Davidson voted against the resolution terminating Johnson’s contract.

Other personnel items

• The board hired Whitney Rupprecht as an industrial technology teacher at Crookston High School. Rupprecht resigned from the Fertile-Beltrami School District in March. She’ll fill the void left by Mike Geffre, who left the district shortly before the start of the 2019-20 school year to take a job in Michigan. In Fertile, Rupprecht, a University of Minnesota Crookston graduate, was known for advising that high school’s renowned FFA program.

• The board accepted the resignation letters from Jill Dalzell, music instructor at Highland, and Cindy Fahser, longtime family and consumer science teacher at the high school.

• The board hired Daniel Rooney as a special education instructor. According to information in the school board meeting packet, Rooney will replace Joan Darco, who will be moving to the high school. He has his masters degree in special education from the University of North Dakota.