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Killdeer Public School prepares for another cramped year

Killdeer School Board members discussed potential locations for a new school. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)

Killdeer Public School principals informed the school board of changes they were making to accommodate an ever-growing number of students, as well as challenges they face.

At a meeting Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Killdeer Public School, the principals outlined the changes and some expected challenges as rapid growth continues throughout the district.

The elementary part of the school is expanding the most. Its enrollment number currently stands at 411 students, grades pre-K through sixth.

"To give you an idea of how we’ve grown, last year at the September meeting, so after the start of school, we had 373 total and 331 K-6 … so it’s not just the preschool that’s bumped (the number). It’s across the board," said Andrew Cook, elementary principal.

To keep up with the rising numbers of students, the school is hiring several new staff members.

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"Just so you understand, last year, we finished the year at 49 teachers. We currently have 58 certified staff members that will be in this building," said Superintendent Gary Wilz.

Cook said the additional staff comes not just in the form of teachers, but paraprofessionals and office staff, too.

"It is getting to the point … where the staff that’s going to be required to deal with this many students is pretty darn close to the amount of staff it’s going to take to do two schools. It’s overwhelming us," he said.

Although the school already ordered new lockers, they may need even more next year.

"There’s no way, once we add the last fifth grade section next year, we’ll have enough lockers, even with the new ones that are coming for the weight room hallway, and they’re so far away," Cook said. "You can’t move the primary kids. They have to stay right next to their room, so it’s going to be quite a fiasco with probably third grade and/or fourth grade. Somebody’s going to have to go a long way to get to their locker."

As the locker shortage looms, teachers must also cope with the issue of limited classroom space. The elementary side has one room left it could utilize for classroom space — its computer lab. Meanwhile, the high school has no extra rooms, forcing teachers to hold classes in the library.

"With the additional fourth grade teacher, we gave up another classroom for that teacher to move into ... down where the weight room was. We were going to have a health room in there, so we’re back to square one with that," said Karter Kleeman, secondary principal. "We thought it would probably be a better idea to have Polly teach her health classes out of the high school library rather than the lobby of the gym, so presently that’s where we’ve got another mobile screen set up."

The district has discussed putting up partitions in hallways and making offices out of equipment rooms.

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"We’ve tried everything trying to figure out where to put people," he said.

The high school's enrollment has also increased over the last few years. During the 2017-2018 school year, Kleeman reports enrollment was at 208 students. Last year, it was 215 students. The enrollment number at the time of the meeting was 250, and that was prior to the enrollment period ending.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Kayla Henson is a former Dickinson Press reporter.
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