Busting at the seams, Jim Hill Middle School faces major overcrowding

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 6:12 PM CST
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MINOT, N.D. – Voters in the Minot Public School District are voting on a $100 million bond referendum to add more middle and high school space and help alleviate overcrowding.

It’s an issue Jim Hill Middle School students, teachers and parents are all too familiar with.

Lunchtime for schools can be a chaotic scene, but when there are more than 800 students involved, it can become an even greater issue.

“We recently moved our lunches from three lunch periods to five so that we could accommodate our students better. We tried three to keep them at grade level and it just wasn’t working,” said Mike Arlien, Jim Hill Middle School principal.

Navigating through hallways in between classes is another challenge in and of itself.

“Kids have been really, I don’t know. They’re just kind of aggressive or just messing around, horseplay, roughhousing in the hallways and that makes a lot of issues. So, it’s just kind of uncomfortable and just bothersome to walk through the hallways,” said Kasey Guttormson, an eighth-grader at Jim Hill Middle School.

Jim Hill Middle School is on an alternating bell schedule to help reduce the number of students out of class, but with that comes a new set of problems.

“Kids hear a bell and they’re like, ‘Oh, we’re done,’ whether it’s their bell or not. So when we think about it, four minutes per class, per week, that’s 20 minutes a week. That’s almost an hour and a half per month that we’re losing instruction time,” said Emily Biberdorf, a seventh and eighth-grade math teacher at Jim Hill Middle School.

The school has seven portables outside to help add space, but with future student projections going up, they’re running out of options, making this year’s bond issue more important than ever.

“Our kids deserve an opportunity to attend school every day in an environment that doesn’t feel like it’s stressful or chaotic because of the overcrowding,” said Arlien.

Arlien added that the bond issue will not only impact this generation of students but future generations of students as well.

The bond issue would turn Central Campus into a third middle school and create a second 9-12 high school on North Hill.

Early voting is taking place the rest of this week and Monday, Dec. 6 at the Ward County Admin Building.

The election is next Tuesday, Dec. 7 at the Minot Auditorium.

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