Minot Public Schools face overcrowding issues

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MINOT, N.D. - The new Erik Ramstad Middle School was built in 2013 for 720 students. Currently there are 725 students, and the school has added roughly 100 students the past five years.

There are no portable classrooms at Ramstad, though Jim Hill Middle School has 10.

The Minot Public School District would prefer to address student population issues in other ways, but that would require approval from voters.

Jayme Berntsen is a 6th grade language arts reading teacher. She has 25 to 35 students in her classes. Five years ago, she had 18 to 25.

Berntsen said she strives to make connections with all her pupils.

"When you have a class size as large as 30 to 35 students that connection is more difficult for teachers and students to create," said Berntsen.

Last year some classes at Erik Ramstad Middle School were held in the commons area because of overcrowding.

"Extra distractions things like that you have other classrooms walking by just the extra noise it was difficult,” said Berntsen.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Mark Vollmer said answers to this problem need to come from outside the classroom.

"It’s time that we start talking as a community. If we are going to build a new school, and we are going to look at some type of construction project that means we are going to have to talk to the people and have a bond election,” said Vollmer.

Berntsen said despite growing classroom sizes she and other teachers are dedicated to making the best of a cramped situation.

"We're doing everything it takes to make this the best opportunity for kids,” she said.

She and other teachers spend individual time with students before or after school, when there is more space for learning.

Berntsen told Your News Leader she wishes the public could visit Minot schools to see firsthand the overcrowding issues the district is dealing with.