Bismarck Public School Board addresses potential overcrowding

Published: Nov. 19, 2019 at 11:42 AM CST
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The Bismarck Public School Board is in the process of juggling solutions for a potential overcrowding problem in the district.

As of now, Legacy High School is at capacity. However, the vast majority of capacity issues lie within elementary schools, with projections into 2022 showing a continued increase in enrollment.

The board plans to delve deeper into the possibility of three separate solutions, each with their own set of pros and cons.

The Board's enrollment projections for 2020 through 2022 show a trend of growth across many schools in the district.

"The increase in enrollment is a great thing for Bismarck schools. We are a great school district with wonderful schools and high quality educators and I would like to think that some of that increase in enrollment is people moving to this community to be a part of our community," said Bismarck Public Schools Superintendent Jason Hornbacher.

While this is a good sign, it means the Board is now faced with potential overcrowding.

As of now, it's presented three possible solutions, each with their own set of challenges.

The first involves changing school boundaries. However, this may force students out of their intended school.

A likely short term solution involves the use of portables.

"I got the sense that no one really thinks that portables are a long term solution for Bismarck Public Schools. It's not the environment we want for kids, but it might be part of a short term solution as we come up with an idea for a long term plan," said Hornbacher.

A long term plan might involve a new facility. However, finding property and acquiring funding could mean a lengthy timeline.

Members of the Board agree, whatever it takes, they guarantee that education is the first priority.

"No matter what. No matter where you go to school in this district, you're going to get a quality education from quality teachers and hands down, you're going to get somebody that cares about you. And that's the bottom line," says Bismarck School Board President Rick Geloff.

Board members will submit proposals within the next two months and they plan to look in depth at every solution.

Geloff says the School Board plans to hold community forums to get feedback before making any plans going forward.