Sullivan: DPS has strategies for increasing enrollment
At the conclusion of the 2008-2009 school year, the enrollment report indicated there were 2,471 students enrolled in grades K-12. The enrollment report for March of this school year indicates there are 2,851 students enrolled in grades K-12.
The enrollment increase has been exclusively in grades K-8 and K-6, which has increased by 36 percent in four years. Needless to say, this enrollment increase has created some interesting challenges during my short tenure in the school district.
Construction of the new elementary school is ahead of schedule and the facility will open for students this fall. However, the enrollment increase is now impacting Hagen Junior High and will be occurring at Dickinson High School starting next school year. The purpose of this article is to provide information about how the school district is preparing for future enrollment in the short and long-term.
The new elementary school will provide the school district with classroom capacity for future growth next school year.
Prairie Rose Elementary is scheduled to open as a K-4 building for the first year. When the new elementary opens this fall, this will also create classroom capacity at Lincoln Elementary and Jefferson Elementary.
Consequently, the two fifth-grade classrooms from Lincoln currently assigned to Berg Elementary will be reassigned back to Lincoln Elementary.
Reassignment of the two fifth-grade classrooms to Lincoln will allow us to address the increasing enrollment at Hagen Junior High in the immediate future.
To address this situation, we will be assigning two eighth-grade history classrooms and one Spanish classroom to Berg Elementary. The history classrooms will be assigned to Berg all day and the Spanish classroom will be only in the morning. This will require the students at Hagen to walk back and forth between the buildings.
The enrollment at Dickinson High School is currently 725 students. Given the size of the facility and previous enrollment in the building, we estimate it is possible to add 350 to 400 students to the building without any facility additions.
Given the new elementary school construction and the capacity available at Dickinson High, we believe these facilities are well positioned for the short-term. However, the long-term projections for school district enrollment and the limited space at Hagen Junior High present challenges for the district to confront.
To address the facility challenges of the school district, the school board recently approved the administration to hire a long-range facility planning consultant. This process will be initiated in July and the consultant will begin to work with the school district and community in September 2013 to assess the facility needs of the school district.
The school board has directed that the process needs to be broad in scope and include a significant opportunity for community involvement and input. Once the consultant is hired, the school board is hopeful the community will be engaged in the process.
It is crucial to the process to receive considerable community input so the consultant can accurately identify the needs of the school district and the perspective of the community. Considerable community involvement will enable the consultant and school district to more accurately align the school district with the concerns and priorities of the community.
I hope this information clarifies the short- and long-term plans of the school district to provide adequate facilities the increasing student
Sullivan is the superintendent of Dickinson Public Schools. If you have any questions about this or any other issue in the Dickinson School District, contact Sullivan at 456-0002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.