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Dickinson Public Schools planning for more expansion

In preparation for the next new elementary school, the Dickinson Public School District has started to look at land for purchase in northeast Dickinson..

The administration asked the Dickinson Public School Board Budget Committee for permission to move forward with researching parcels of land to purchase — it needs 10 acres — at a meeting of the committee Monday afternoon at the Central Administration Building.

“We have been contacted by somebody in the Dickinson area who is willing to sell us some land and its kind of in the area of town where we think another 10 acres would be a wise decision in the event that we need to add another elementary school in east Dickinson,” Assistant Superintendent Vince Reep said. The seller offered it to the district at $45,000 per acre.

Prairie Rose Elementary opened in August in northwest Dickinson.

“I don’t think, as a district, we’re ready to pull the trigger on anything yet,” Reep said. “I’m just a little worried that we don’t have as much time as we thought.”

Enrollment in Dickinson Public Schools has grown mostly in the elementary grades as young families, drawn by the oil boom, move to the area.

“We had five kindergarten kids in one day enroll,” Reep said. “It’s crazy. We started at 285 and we’re at 302 (kindergarteners) now.”

The district is working with a professional master facility planning team to assess the needs of the district and the wants of the public before it moves forward with any more school construction, Reep said.

The district purchased the 10 acres that Prairie Rose was built on in 1982 — more than 30 years before construction was complete — for $100,000, Reep said.

While the construction of a new elementary school is up in the air, the need for five additional elementary teachers begins next autumn, Reep said.

“We’ll start the recruiting season early,” Reep said. “Because we’re going to have to.”

Dietitian position considered

The administration asked the budget committee to consider adding a full-time, district-wide dietitian to help head cooks in each building build better lunches around the new school lunch requirements.

Because salaries are up in the district, the number of children that qualify for free or reduced lunch is down, meaning the schools are receiving fewer federal dollars.

“We get less money, less revenue, more requirements with fresh fruits and vegetables,” Reep said. “They’re spendy. They’re expensive,” Reep said.

At the beginning of the year, the district found it was not in line and hired a dietician for about 12 hours per week at $45 per hour on a consulting basis, Reep said.

“I think having a licensed dietitian bring us those new ideas and encourage us to try different things rather than open an oven door and shake corn dogs in there because kids like them and eat them,” Reep said. “We need to balance them with what they like and what’s good for them.”

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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