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First day of class brings more students to schools

Posted 8/29/12 (Wed)

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

All McKenzie County schools are bustling this week with the klomp-klomp of little, and not-so-little, feet.  That’s right, summer break is over and the school grind has officially begun.
During the summer, area school administrators spent their three-month interim hurriedly filling positions and finding housing for new employees, as well as dealing with transportation issues caused by construction or simply increased routes. Their work was not in vain. Because as expected, enrollment numbers are up and area schools are growing.
“We have had an excellent start to our school year with students,” states McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 Superintendent Steve Holen. “We are pleased at the number of new students that have enrolled this fall and are excited about our new staff members this year.”
According to Holen, on the first day of school, the district had 887 students enrolled in grades K-12, which is 145 more students than the school system had last year.
“We have 444 students enrolled at the elementary school, which is now grades K-5, and 443 students enrolled at the high school, grades 6-12,” states Holen.
What is also nice, Holen states, is the even split in numbers between the elementary and high school.
“This shows the success of moving the sixth grade students to the high school building, as it would have put the elementary school well over 500 students without the transition,” Holen states.
The largest grades in the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 are the Kindergarten and first grades, with 79 students in each grade. Also, all K-7 grades have over 70 students per grade.
“Grades K-2 have four sections to allow those grades to maintain class sizes of under 20 kids,” states Holen. “It’s been a number of years since the district has seen solid grade sizes and it is exciting to see the district approach an enrollment of over 900 students, which hasn’t been seen since 1990.”
New Watford City Elementary School Principal Brad Foss states that things have been going very well for his first week of school in Watford City.
“So far things have been awesome,” states Foss. “Everything seems well organized and the new teachers are adjusting well to the students and the schedule and are a great addition.”
Watford City’s Elementary School has dealt with a lot this school year. They have lost a grade to the high school building, but essentially haven’t gone down in size. They have added teachers, classes and students and done so amongst nearby construction for the new elementary school building.
“The construction process for the new elementary school is in full swing and there’s a lot of dirt being moved,” states Foss. “But things here are off and rolling.”
The school district’s only hiccup for the start of the year was transportation, according to Holen.
“The transportation department is starting the school year off with some modifications regarding the bus routes to cover open bus driving positions,” states Holen.
According to Holen, the transportation department is in a period of transition with new staff and new students. But, “given the challenges, the start of the school year has gone well.”
Though not quite as high of a hike, Alexander has also had an exciting first week of school in terms of enrollments and new staff.
“We started off the year with 125 students,” states Mike Klabo, Alexander Public School District No. 2 superintendent. “At the start of last year, we had 82 in enrollment.”
Klabo states that Alexander has also been dealing with the hiring of additional staff and transportation issues.
“It hasn’t been too bad, but the buses have had to take it slow when getting onto and off of U.S. Highway 85,” Klabo states. “Other than the construction, our transportation routes are working well.”
Additionally, Klabo states the school district hired eight teachers and they are still looking for a Pre-school teacher.
The enrollment for Johnson Corners Christian Academy was 19 students on its first day of school.
“I expect a few more students who plan to move to North Dakota and join us during the year,” states Adrian Timmons, school administrator.
Additionally, Timmons states that the academy has two new credentialed teachers and a new classroom aide.