Due to jumps in students at Dickinson High School and the newly-opened Dickinson Middle School, the district has seen a sizable increase in student enrollment.
As of Sept. 1, the district is currently up 253 students since May. Dickinson Middle has enrolled 841 students, exactly 100 more middle schoolers than the amount that attended Hagen Junior High School and Berg Elementary since the spring. The new building was originally staffed with a projected 790 students in mind.
In that same time frame, Dickinson High rose from 874 enrolled students to 945, a 71-student increase.
Lincoln Elementary was the only elementary school that didn't see an increase as enrollment in DPS elementary schools are up by 77 students, including a 61-student enrollment growth at Prairie Rose Elementary. Enrollment at Southwest Community High School increased by five to 27 students.
The district enrollment growth only slightly decreased to 244 students when compared to fall 2016. At any rate, the growth far exceeds the district's expectations.
"We had anticipated that the enrollment would increase by 100 students. We are 150 percent over that," said Doug Sullivan, DPS superintendent, in a regular school board meeting held this week. "So it is a nice problem to have. It's nice that the school district continues to grow."
While only a preliminary discussion has taken place, Sullivan and Dickinson High School principal Ron Dockter have looked into the possibility of adding staff beginning next semester. The original discussion was concerning to staff during the 2018-19 school year, but the concern this year is that some classes during the second semester will include more than 30 students. Some of the current teachers are willing to sacrifice their preparation time to expand their teaching service, but no decision has been made at this time.
"There is going to be a number of requests for additional personnel," Sullivan said. "But the 253 students will generate additional per student payment, which will help, and it's just going to be a moving target for a little while as we take a look our immediate needs and also take a look at reopening Berg [Elementary]."