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Sullivan: Community can still weigh in on future school options

In the past few years, Dickinson Public Schools has experienced dramatic growth in student enrollment.

For example, in grades K-6 we have added approximately 646 K-6 students since May 2009. This number is virtually equal to the combined enrollment at Heart River, Berg and Jefferson Elementary Schools in May 2009.

As the community is aware, in conjunction with the DLR Group, the school district has been conducting a facility master planning process to address this increasing enrollment. As previously mentioned, the purpose of the long-range facility planning process is to position the school district from a facilities perspective for the next 20 to 25 years.

The final public forum regarding the future facilities of the Dickinson Public Schools was conducted on March 20 at Hagen Junior High School. The forum was well attended with approximately 115 people in attendance.

Chris Gibbs of the DLR Group facilitated the forum and provided a variety of information for the audience. The information provided to the audience included the results of the community input from the previous meeting. Some other examples of discussion topics at the meeting were:

-- Demographics of participants in the community forums.

-- Participant perception of building quality.

-- Primary guiding principles for future facilities.

-- Tax implications of various funding levels.

-- Possible grade level configurations.

-- Deferred maintenance projects.

While this is not an exhaustive list of the topics discussed, it will hopefully illuminate the depth and breadth of items considered by the participants.

The final activity for the meeting attendees was to consider three possible options for the community to consider for future funding. Additionally, participants were asked to provide opinions about the location of possible future school buildings within the city. Mr. Gibbs clearly illuminated that the three options presented were not the final three options that would be presented to the school board.

The final options for the school board to consider will be a blend of these alternatives that incorporates the input from the final community forum. It is the intention of the DLR Group to provide the school board with the preliminary report at its April school board meeting.

Two PowerPoint presentations have been posted to all school district websites for interested individuals to review.

One PowerPoint provides information specific to the school district enrollment growth and the second is the information utilized by the DLR Group during the March 20 community forum. Please do not hesitate to review this information and forward any ideas or input to my office. All comments will be forwarded to the DLR Group for consideration.

On behalf of the Dickinson School Board, I would like to thank all individuals who were able to participate in the three community forums. We are confident the final product will assist the school district in addressing the facility needs necessary to accommodate the increasing student enrollment.

Sullivan is the superintendent of Dickinson Public Schools.

If you have any questions about this topic or any other issue

in the Dickinson Public Schools, contact Sullivan at 701-456-0002

or through email at