Growing Riveredge school expands its curriculum

Enrollment climbed by 13% to 98 students this year
By 
CONNOR CARYNSKI
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Riveredge Outdoor Learning Elementary School continues to expand its enrollment and curriculum options with assistance from the Northern Ozaukee School District.

ROLES Principal Mike Mullen presented a list of achievements the budding charter school has accomplished in the last year at a July 19 NOSD School Board meeting.

The outdoor education school, which opened in 2019-2020 school year, is authorized by NOSD and offers classes for students in kindergarten through fifth grade at  Riveredge Nature Center year round.

ROLES is the first outdoor school in southeast Wisconsin and one of just a few in the state.

Mullen said the school is expanding curriculum this year.

The principal said at the beginning of the last school year its curriculum was limited to just a few subjects. But new math and reading curriculum were developed this year to expand offerings.

Mullen added that school staff members will also be working to create science and social studies curriculum.

 “We’re delighted to start the fall with  much more curriculum to work with,” he said.

During its first year the school was also able to begin Northwest Evaluation Association MAP (measure of academic progress) testing, thanks to assistance from NOSD.

Mullen said last school year tests were administered twice but that next year he hopes the tests can be given three or four times to better track student performance, which has been strong so far.

“We realized increases for math and reading for the percent of students scoring both proficient and advanced,” he said. “We’re delighted to see that growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the school.”

As the school’s academic offerings expand, so does enrollment.

Mullen said enrollment rose 13% from last year, with 98 students signed up for classes this fall.

Interest in the school is so great that Mullen said there is a waiting list of 37 families for kindergarten courses.

“I think it really speaks volumes to the staff we have at Riveredge and the Riveredge team,” he said.

School Board member Suzanne Miller asked that with such a large waiting list, if the school should consider expanding its enrollment.

Mullen said he would love to be able to accommodate every family interested in enrolling their child in the school but that there are limitations preventing it.

One of the major restrictions is the lack of physical space in which to teach additional classes.

“We’d have to physically build another building,” Mullen said.

With ROLES operating on a nature preserve, Mullen said bringing in additional students may also change the footprint of the school’s operations.

He said every year Riveredge attracts 9,000 student visitors and that it is important to be balance visitation with conservation.

 “Every time someone steps foot on the property, they impact the property,” he said.

He added that if the school were to add an additional kindergarten class, it would also have to create new classes for all the grades above it, which would push the school over their 108 enrollment cap.

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