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Same school, different kids: Berg Elementary to reopen in 2018, will serve grades K-4

The halls of Berg Elementary could be filled with students again next fall. (Sydney Mook / The Dickinson Press)

Students may once again be roaming the halls of Berg Elementary next fall, though they may be a little younger than they used to be.

Berg Elementary, which previously served as a school for sixth graders until the new Dickinson Middle School opened this fall, will likely be opened again next year. But instead of serving 11 and 12-year-olds, when the doors open next year, Berg will be a K-4 school.

Doug Sullivan, superintendent of Dickinson Public Schools, said the reopening of the school was not a sudden decision. Sullivan said the school district knew last year that Berg Elementary would need to be reopened.

"We wanted to take a year to try and upgrade the facility a little bit," he said. "We have plenty of space to accommodate our current enrollment and so we've known for quite awhile that it would need to reopen in 2018."

Sullivan said the school would become a K-5 school in 2019-20.

"We felt it was best with the fifth grade students not move them in 2018 and then in 2019 they'd have to go to the middle school, so they'll stay in the building where they're currently enrolled," he said.

Sullivan said they plan on hiring more staff, both certified and classified positions, for the new school in the coming months, however, some of the positions will be reassignments or transfers.

During the last oil boom class sizes at DPS began to rise, which left some students to be placed in an elementary school that might not have been geographically closest to them in order to help level out class sizes across the district.

"When the boom was going on one of the things that was happening was we had students that were in one attendance area and we were having to place them in a different attendance area to maintain some class size equity and so we're trying to address that at least partially as part of this process," Sullivan said.

The district held meetings last month about the future of Dickinson High School, where Sullivan said projections show "that in three short years this school district could have a kindergarten class over 500 students," which would have an impact on all levels of schooling.

Sullivan said the school district will be holding another public forum on Dec. 14 at Dickinson High School at 7 p.m.

"We just hope people will attend the final public forum ... because I've asked the school board to make the decision by no later than February so this will be the last public forum that we'll have regarding the topic," he said.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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