(Editor’s note: This tribute story to the Sartell-St. Stephen School District was written and submitted by the district’s communications coordinator, Amy Trombley. We hope readers enjoy it as much as the news staff did.)
by Amy Trombley
Happy 50th anniversary to the Sartell-St. Stephen School District! In 1966, a vote took place to become an independent school district to ensure there were schools for students throughout their high-school years.
At that time, the number of school-aged children in the Sartell area had risen to about 850 students K-12. In becoming independent, the school district would need to work toward providing high-school education for students who typically went to Sauk Rapids High School or St. Cloud Tech High School for their secondary educations.
The school board asked voters to support a bond referendum for a high school located in Sartell. According to History of Sartell, MN: Lumber, Paper Valves and Progress, the four reasons to vote in the referendum were to keep control of schools and taxes, the need for additional elementary classrooms, children could attend high school in the city and a high school would allow for more extracurricular activity with local transportation.
On Jan. 6, 1967, a special election was held with more than 94 percent participation of registered voters. The bond passed with 66 percent approval. That all happened in spite of the 12 inches of snow that fell on that day. The high school, which is now the north portion of the current Sartell Middle School, was opened in September of 1969 to accommodate 675 students.
As the population in the area grew, so did the school district. There have been several additions to facilities and new buildings that have been built to meet the needs of the students and the city. Fifty years later, the district is widely known for excellent education for students and their families.
More than 25,000 square feet have been added on to the original old Sartell Elementary School, which now serves as the District Service Center and houses Community Education, Little Sabres Preschool and district administrative offices.
The current Sartell Middle School (the original Sartell High School) had a major addition built on in 1985 that served as Sartell Intermediate School for some time. Sartell’s population tripled – from 1,323 in 1970 to 5,393 in 1990. In 1993, the current high school was opened to accommodate 800 students. The current middle and high schools have also had additions built on since that time.
As growth continued to happen in the area, Pine Meadow Elementary (1999) and Oak Ridge Elementary (2004) were built and grade configurations shifted again to meet the continued growing demands for quality education within the Sartell-St. Stephen School District. Since 1990, the district’s student population has doubled from 1,822 students to 3,771 students in 2015.
Currently, Sartell High School houses 1,165 students in grades 9-12. Sartell Middle School serves grades 5-8 with more than 1,241 students. Pine Meadow and Oak Ridge elementaries serve grades K-4 with 667 and 746 students respectively. The District Service Center supports more than 180 children from 0 to 5 years old through the Early Childhood and Preschool programming. All district facilities are currently at or have exceeded their originally planned capacity, and the population of the district is projected to grow about 8 percent during the next 10 years.
There is a proud tradition in the Sartell-St. Stephen School District. The district continues to provide a quality education to families within the district and helps attract families, businesses and opportunities to the city.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.