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Killdeer school starts another year of growth

KILLDEER -- The Killdeer Public School has been dealing with a population boom for a few years, and this time around is no different. The school district is starting the school year with as many students as it had when last year ended, about 450....

KILLDEER -- The Killdeer Public School has been dealing with a population boom for a few years, and this time around is no different.

The school district is starting the school year with as many students as it had when last year ended, about 450. But lack of enrollments over summer doesn't mean it won't see growth -- after all, it started the 2013-14 year with closer to 400 children.

"It is changing daily for us," Superintendent Gary Wilz said.

About 300 of those 450 kids are eligible for busing because they live outside Killdeer city limits, but the annexation of a trailer park about a mile south of the school has left some students without busing.

When the city annexed in the Bi-Hutch trailer park, it added that community to the responsibility of city services, like police and fire. But it also shut the seven or eight KPS students living there off from busing services.

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The district only buses in students living rurally, outside city limits. Even so, some parents, Wilz noted, have to drive their kids 10 miles to get to a bus stop.

"It's a matter of trying to be equitable across the board with city kids versus rural kids," Wilz said. "We're not busing anybody else in town."

He said to mitigate the issue, he wants to have a meeting with other players at the table, like the city and the Department of Transportation. They might discuss adding ways to make walking safer, especially for crossing the roundabout at the intersection of Highways 22 and 200 that's between the trailer park and the city center. Reinstating the bus service is still an option, Wilz said, but he worries about it becoming a slippery slope, with parents a little farther out of city limits seeing the concession and also asking for bus service.

"We're trying to be equitable and sometimes equity doesn't seem that fair, I guess," he said.

Another change this year is longer coming: For more than a year, fundraisers have been collecting donations from oil companies, community members and institutions to update the school's deteriorating football field.

With the school district's help, the project is near completion, but because of a series of construction delays, the Killdeer Cowboy Sports Complex -- including new artificial turf -- most likely won't be ready for the football team's first scheduled home game against Heart River on Sept. 5. The artificial turf and renovated track can withstand many of the harsh elements brought on by North Dakota weather.

Workers won't start installing the artificial turf until later this week, fundraising head Suzi Tuhy said.

"One concern, especially with football, is in the fall you have rain and every once in a while you'll have snow," Killdeer head football coach Lou Dobitz said. "That will be one nice thing we won't have to worry about -- you'll have the temperatures and everything -- but the surface itself will be really nice all the time. When spring comes around, early in the track season the snow would melt off but we still couldn't use it because it was wet and soft. Now when the track is completed we can use it right away. We are all excited for it."

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Dobitz, who is in his sixth season as the head coach for the Cowboys, said the renovations for the football field and track have been needed for many years.

In the meantime, the team has been practicing at an undeveloped lot and will play its game against Heart River at the Biesiot Activities Center.

"It has been a real long time coming," Dobitz said with a laugh. "Even way before my time, the track and football coaches were asking for updates to the area. It has been over a dozen years in the process -- maybe even more than that. Recently, we pushed quite hard to get this going and now it's actually coming true. We are just so happy that it is. We can't wait to practice on the field."

Wilz said he's very confident the field will be ready for the team's second scheduled home game against Central McLean on Sept. 26.

The students are ready to start using the field, for which many of them helped fundraise.

"They're anxious," Tuhy said. "They're ready to go."

Related Topics: KILLDEER
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