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School district braces for more students

Posted 8/17/11 (Wed)

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

Every dawn has its day. For a school system, that day is now, and the dawn is enrollment.
It’s an exciting and busy time for the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 school system administrators and employees, and an important time for parents.
For the school system, enrollment helps quantify the number of students and gives administrators an idea of what the year will be like. For parents, it answers the question, “Who will my child’s teacher be?” Or “What will his/her schedule be?”
After seeing a marked increase in new enrollments during the last school year, Watford City school administrators have been making adjustments to accommodate even more students for this year, and for years to come.
“We have maximized all the usable space in the elementary building,” says Steve Holen, McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 superintendent.
According to Sherry Lervick,
Watford City Elementary School principal, the elementary school has seen a 90-student jump in enrollment numbers from last year. An increase that didn’t totally catch her off-guard.
“Every possible room in the elementary school is being used to add more classroom space for new students,” says Lervick.
According to Lervick, extra classrooms have been added for grades three, four, five and six by converting storage rooms and teacher work rooms back to classrooms.
While the district’s remodeling efforts to increase more classrooms at the elementary school may not be ideal, Holen says that these preparations have given the elementary school some breathing room to react to more increases in student numbers.
“The elementary school building can handle up to 475 students,” says Holen.
But with the elementary school’s numbers at 380 students, Holen admits that the district may not have as much time to plan a s they would like.
“We are already discussing temporary options,” states Holen. “Plus we are looking at more than just temporary options.”
Holen states that the district is looking three, four and up to 10 years down the road, and discussing options for the future.
While the biggest growth in new student numbers has been at the elementary school, the high school is also seeing an uptick in new students.
According to Jay Diede, Watford City High School principal, enrollment numbers are already ahead of last year at this time. However, the number of new students is not as great as he was expecting.
“We lost a lot of seniors to graduation last year,” says Diede. “We are hoping for 20 to 30 more new enrollments at the high school before school starts.”
Currently, according to Diede, the high school has an enrollment of 287 students.
“Some kids don’t stay when they come, so we are experiencing a bit of a revolving door at the high school,” says Diede. “But we are seeing more students who are coming and staying in school than seem to be coming and then leaving.”
In preparation for more growth at the high school, the district has added a new science and a new English teacher to its teaching staff.