School year begins for Williston School District One

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WILLISTON, N.D. - It's the first day of school for Williston School District One, and it's feeling the pressure of increased enrollment.

The first day of school is much different for Hagen Elementary Principal Darla Ratzak compared to when she started here 12 years ago.

"In the past, I've been able to tell you every student's name one by one, and now it's a little bit more where we get larger numbers, I don't really get to know every kid on a personal level like I used to," said Ratzak.

District One has some remarkable enrollment numbers. More than 900 students have been added since last year.

"The number that we're experiencing is unheard of. I don't know of another school district in the state that's having this type of increase," said Williston Public School District One Superintendent Michael Campbell.

While there have been high birth rates over the last few years, that's not the only reason.

"People are just moving. I think families are coming in to be with their spouses, the rent is down, I think people are going to keep coming. Jobs are available," said Ratzak.

The increased enrollment is putting a strain on a district that hasn't opened up a new elementary school since 1985.

"We are at capacity. We are full. And we are beyond full in some grade levels," said Campbell.

There are only a few options to improve the situation.

"We need to either add on to our buildings or build some buildings. That's kind of the bottom line," said Campbell.

Campbell says even the brand new high school needs nine more classrooms.