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Brainerd School District: Growth in early childhood enrollment prompts new hire

The Brainerd School Board approved a new assistant community education director position -- a move prompted by a 43 percent increase (roughly 3,000 to 5,000 youths) in early childhood enrollment between 2016-17 and 2018-19. Enrollment graphic / Brainerd School District

The Brainerd School Board Monday, June 11, agreed to create an assistant community education director position—to be effective July 1.

Brainerd Community Education Director Cori Reynolds asked the board to create the position to keep up with the growth in the early childhood and school readiness programs in the Brainerd School District, which has nearly doubled in the last eight years. The district is anticipating to have more than 5,000 youths in this year's early childhood programming—a 43 percent increase from 2016-17.

Reynolds stated there were 3,500 youths who participated in more than 200 classes, activities and events in 2016-17; plus there were 497 early childhood screenings completed. Reynolds said as the program has grown, the personnel structure has not. There are currently 14 certified teachers, secretaries working 1.5 full-time equivalent hours, a small number of educational assistants and a budget totaling $1.26 million.

Reynolds said the programs require administrative leadership—an assistant community education director position—for early childhood programs.

"As we look ahead to relocating to a larger facility as well two satellite sites, we will need this position to lead community education programs in three locations across the district as well as manage the transitions as the building project progresses," Reynolds stated in her presentation. "The addition of this administrative position is also a key factor in being able to respond to the changing needs of the school district. This will create space to allow the director of community education to provide additional leadership to the district's communication efforts that include ongoing community engagement and involvement in the building projects."

Reynolds said the proposed position is projected to be $127,300 in salary and benefits. However, Reynolds said $17,000 of this salary is offset with the reclassification of the communications manager position to a communication coordinator. Reynolds said the community education fund will be able to absorb the additional expense, without touching the general fund.

Reynolds not only serves as the district's community education director, she did communication work for the district on the referendum. She said many times she was pulled away from working on the referendum to work on an early childhood family education need. She said having an assistant director helping run programs would be beneficial to the district.

Reynolds also asked the board to increase an Adult Basic Education teacher position from a .6 full-time equivalent to a 1.0 FTE to help with the growth of the program. The board agreed.