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Sullivan: Facilities for the future

From May 2009 to October 2013, the Dickinson Public School District has enrolled 724 new students into its schools.

According to the Department of Public Instruction website, in the 2012-13 school year, there were 178 school districts North Dakota.

Doug Sullivan The 724 students that have enrolled in the Dickinson Public Schools represent more students in all but 17 of the school districts in North Dakota, according to 2012-13 fall enrollment numbers.

The construction process began on Prairie Rose Elementary in April 2012. Prairie Rose opened in the fall of 2013 as a K-4 building with 13 classrooms occupied by students.

The original projection was that the building would open with two classrooms for each of these five grade levels and occupy 10 classrooms. This school year, Dickinson Public Schools has experienced approximately an 11.5 percent increase in enrollment. Due to this number, the school district hired two additional elementary teachers three days before the start of the school year.

These are just a few examples of the enrollment increase the school district has experienced in the past five years.

This enrollment increase presents implications for the future facilities of the school district. It is important for the school district to actively address this issue and properly position the school district for the future. A crucial component in addressing this issue is for the community to be actively engaged in providing input to the school board about the future of the Dickinson Public Schools.

To provide an avenue for community input, the school board recently approved a recommendation to contract for the services of a long-range facility planning consultant. The school district has contracted with the DLR Group to assess the facilities of the school district and review potential future facility needs.

Part of the process is to engage the community in this discussion and seek input into the future of the school district. This will help to identify community sentiment about how the school district should look in the next 15 to 20 years.

The first of three community meetings regarding this topic will occur at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, at Prairie Rose Elementary, 2785 10th St. W.

It is the hope of the school board that community members will attend this meeting and be actively engaged in the discussion. This is one of the most important discussions to impact the school district in recent years and significant community engagement is crucial to crafting an effective plan for the future.

Please place this meeting on your agenda and plan to attend and participate in this discussion.

Sullivan is the superintendent of Dickinson Public Schools. If you have questions about this topic or any other issue, contact him at 701-456-0002 or