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Watford sees jump in school enrollment

Posted 8/18/10 (Wed)

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

For a rural community an increase in school enrollment is always something to celebrate. And this year, the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 really has something to celebrate.
As the first day of school approaches, the district is expecting at least 40 new students, 20 at each school.
“Last year we had 20 new students, and we were excited to have that,” says Steve Holen, McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 superintendent. “I would have been happy with 20 new students, but this is in the range we were expecting and it’s hard to say what will happen between now and Aug. 25, when we open the doors for the new school year.”
Watford City High School is looking at 285 students for the 2010-2011 school year compared to 265 at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, and the elementary school is expecting to have 293 students this year compared to ending last year with 273.
“We are able to handle the number of students that we are looking at for this year without too many changes,” adds Holen. “However, we don’t know that this will be our biggest year. Once the housing issues work themselves out, we may see even bigger numbers.”
The district’s biggest change due to numbers may be the addition of a third kindergarten class.
“At one point we had 48 kindergartners registered. Right now we are at 43,” comments Holen. “Having 43 students in two classrooms is something we can handle. But because we don’t know how many students haven’t registered yet, the board approved advertising for a third kindergarten teacher. It’s a hard time to hire a teacher, but if we can find someone qualified we will add the third section. If we don’t find someone we will adjust.”
Watford City Elementary School currently has two sections of every class except the first and second grades, where it has three sections due to class size.
“If we continue to grow, we may see the elementary school go back to three sections of each class,” adds Holen. “We hate to do that just to drop back down to two sections, so that is something we will be watching in the future.”
Holen urges any parents who haven’t registered their students to stop in at the school and get them signed up before their first day on Aug. 25.
“There is lots of excitement throughout the schools,” states Holen. “We are excited to have the students back. This is a great time for the district and an exciting time for the community.”