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Sullivan: Preparing for a new school year

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As one school year comes to a close, the school district is busy preparing for a new school year to begin in the fall.

We are estimating that enrollment in the school district will increase by 5 to 7 percent next school year. This includes new enrollees and transfers, as well as larger classes moving forward in the school district. The school board has made plans to address the ongoing increase in enrollment through the following steps.

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The community is aware that the school district opened a new elementary school this fall to accommodate the growing student population. Prairie Rose was opened as a K-5 building with three classrooms per grade.

Beginning in August, the school district will be putting an addition onto Prairie Rose that will expand the building to four sections per grade level. It is anticipated the addition will be completed in time for the opening of the 2015-16 school year. With six additional classrooms, this will allow for the enrollment of approximately 150 additional K-5 students.

Additionally, the school district will be conducting a bond referendum for the construction of a new middle school. The election will be on Oct. 7 and will request $65 million for this project.

Preparations for the election are underway and the details of polling places and time of the election will be provided in the future. Further, the school district is also planning an informational campaign about the election and proposed facility. It is the intention of the school board to guarantee that information is widely distributed so the community is well informed about the election.

More information is available on the District website at www.dickinson.k12.nd.us.

The school district is closely monitoring the addresses of incoming students to guarantee they are residents of the Dickinson School District. Open enrollment in the Dickinson Public Schools has been closed since last school year.

There is no indication this will change in the future as the school district is working to keep up with the increasing student enrollment. Simply stated, closing open enrollment means that students who are residents of other school districts will not be permitted to enroll in the schools of the Dickinson School District.

Finally, over the past few years we have frequently received comments about the traffic around many of our facilities.

As student enrollment has increased, so have the number of vehicles around the buildings before and after school.

The district is working to address the traffic congestion through providing a shuttle bus service. Succinctly, strategic bus stops would be established around the city to transport some students to and from school. There would be a fee for the service and the service would only be available to students who reside outside of the walking zones for each building.

It is our hope this will alleviate some of the congestion around the buildings and provide more convenience for parents to get their children to school. We are working to have the service available for the opening of school in the fall.

It will be a busy summer in the Central Administration Office as we work to position the school district for next fall. If you have any questions about these topics, or any other issue in the school district, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable summer.

Sullivan is the superintendent of Dickinson Public Schools. Email him at dsullivan@dpsnd.org.

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