Dickinson Schools Try To Stay Ahead Of Growing Population - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Dickinson Schools Try To Stay Ahead Of Growing Population

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As the population in Dickinson grows, so does the number of children enrolled in school. For Dickinson Public Schools, that rapid increase in students has presented some new challenges.

A few weeks ago, the Dickinson School Board approved a bond election for October that would let the district build a new middle school and expand Prairie Rose Elementary. At the rate the district is growing those additions aren't just wanted but necessary.

The classroom sizes in Dickinson Public Schools just keep growing.

"We're enrolling a student as we're having this conversation," says Dickinson Public School Superintendent Doug Sullivan. 

But not all students who come in are sticking around.

"I've had students that were only here three weeks," says second-grade teacher Mandy Lubken.

Teachers say the rotation and number of students can be challenging, but also helpful.

"My curriculum a lot more spiraled, where I'm repeating subject matter and concepts so all students are aware of it. Just because I don't know where they are when they first came in," says Lubken.

And parents say they're impressed with staff's efforts to get all the kids on the same education level.

"They actually are very attentive to every child's needs, and not just collectively but individually. So I don't feel like, I think it gives every child the opportunity to get to that same learning level," says Dickinson school's parent Cynthia Terry.

As families move in and out of the Queen City, schools are trying to keep up.

"Last school year, the 2012-2013 school year, we had 1,078 transfer in or out of the school district, approximately 35% of our student population," says Sullivan.

Sullivan says the biggest problems are finding space and hiring staff.

"We've created 15 teaching positions for next year. This year the Human Resources Department is in the process of hiring 43 teachers," says Sullivan.

And the space issue was one of the reasons the district built the new Prairie Rose Elementary.

"If we had not opened Prairie Rose this fall, the average class size in our school district in grades K-5 would be 35:1," he says.

But Sullivan says the challenges aren't unwanted. The district now has the opportunity to build 21st-Century facilities to keep its students ahead.

"I think it's exciting for the school district, it's exiting for the community to have new people moving in, to have the economy grow, and there's no doubt that it presents a challenge, but it's always fun to welcome new people to the community," says Sullivan.

And that excitement will only continue. Sullivan says projections show the district could grow by five to 700 students in the next five years.

And kindergarten is where Dickinson Public Schools are seeing some of the highest growth. Three-hundred children have already registered for next school year, and Sullivan says he's expecting even more throughout the summer.

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