School enrollment in region decreases

School is back in session, but it looks like there are fewer bodies in the classrooms this year. Most school districts in the southwest region saw a slight decrease in enrollment this fall, but numbers are preliminary and can still change by next...

School is back in session, but it looks like there are fewer bodies in the classrooms this year.

Most school districts in the southwest region saw a slight decrease in enrollment this fall, but numbers are preliminary and can still change by next spring.

The schools looking at a decrease include Dickinson, Beach, Hettinger, New England, Richardton-Taylor, South Heart, Golva, Mott-Regent, Scranton, Hebron and Bowman public school districts.

Dickinson Public School District (DPS) is down 27 students from last spring. Comparing fall 2006 to fall 2007, the district has 82 fewer students. Total school enrollment so far this year is 2,561 versus last fall's numbers at 2,643.

"Although we do not have the specific data done on where new students came from yet and where existing students went to, it appears as though a good part of the loss is due to simple factors," DPS Business Manager Vince Reep said. "In January 2007, we had 252 seniors graduating and this fall we have a new kindergarten class of 196 coming in which is a set difference. That is 56 less students we expected."


Hagen Junior High School also had an expected lower enrollment with 220 eighth graders leaving to the high school, he added.

"We had an outward migration of 18 in grades 7-12, but we picked up 19 students in grades K-6," Reep said.

The district was close to its January projection. The largest contributing factor was having more kindergarteners than projected. The projection had been 175 and the district received 21 more.

On the other side, Dickinson Catholic School District, Billings County, Belfield, Hebron and Halliday public school districts have all seen a slight increase in student enrollment while Killdeer and Mandaree public schools have maintained their numbers.

A little bit more

Dickinson Catholic School District is up a couple students from last year. This year there are 255 students at Trinity High School, 107 at Trinity West Elementary and 122 at Trinity East Elementary schools. The numbers do not reflect the district's pre-school program, but grades K-12 only.

Billings County Superintendent Denise Soehren said the district is up only two from last year so far. Last year the district had a total of 44 students. Soehren cited younger families moving in with more oil field activity as a possible source for the increase.

Belfield superintendent Darrel Remington agreed the enrollment increase at his school district also could be due to oil activity in the greater Billings County area.


"We're up just slightly," Remington said. "We're seeing normal fluctuation and some young families moving in with new students."

The school graduated 18 last spring and brought in 19 new kindergarteners this fall. This year's total school enrollment for Belfield is 217 compared to last year's 203, he added.

Hebron Public School saw four more students added this fall compared to last year. The school year started with 165 total students for the K-12 facility.

For Halliday Public School, with the dissolving of Dodge Public School last year, it picked up four students. Thus far, the district has 10 more students this fall from last spring. There are 10 students in grades K-6 and 23 in grades 7-12.

"Some students come from Twin Buttes Public School and others come from larger schools because they want more individualized instruction," Halliday superintendent Dave Lee said. "We do our best to serve them and have a good academic program for them."

Slight decreases

Both Beach and Golva are slightly down from previous years. Beach Public School Superintendent Larry Helvick said the district is down by seven at this time with total enrollment at 281 compared to last year's 288. The school graduated 20 in the spring, but had fewer entering the kindergarten class this fall.

"The rest is just general fluctuation," Helvick said. "We have Home on the Range students in our upper levels and their numbers have also been down for the last couple of years."


Golva Public School Business Manager Leah Zook said the K-8 grade facility is at 28 this year and was at 33 last year. Zook cited lower population in the area with less younger children coming in to the school as a factor.

"Eight students went on to Beach High School as freshmen this year and we only brought in two kindergarteners," Zook said.

Southwest of there, Mott-Regent Public School District Superintendent Myron Schweitzer said this year's enrollment decrease was slight, only seven, but next year's will be a bigger hit.

"We're bringing in an average 14 or 15 size classes," Schweitzer said. "In 2008, we will graduate 34 while last spring we graduated 25. Next year we will drop 20 students just on that."

At Hettinger Public School District enrollment has had a bigger hit sooner.

"We're down by 22 in grades 7-12," Hettinger Superintendent Brian Christopherson said. "Our total enrollment is 292 which is down by 30, but every school has a couple of grades that are way below the average which includes us too."

The district is holding its own with migration and is starting to reach a point of around 20 students as the average in a class, he added.

"What I foresee in the future is seeing it stable off at around 20 students per class," Christopherson said. "We are lucky here to have the West River Health Services and more jobs with places like that and the Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing business here now."


Bowman Public School District reported a total of 434 students this year which is down from last year while New England Public School District had one of its bigger graduating classes in a while graduate last year with the same for this year with around 20 seniors.

"This year's kindergarten class is 13 and for the most part projections for kindergarten will consistently be in the teens," New England Superintendent Kelly Raasch said.

The school district had 161 students total last year and only 154 this year, he added.

Scranton Public School District is down by 10 students this year compared to last year's 161 total enrollment. Scranton Superintendent John Pretzer said 17 graduated last spring while seven only came into the kindergarten class this year.

Hebron Public School is down by two students this year. The school graduated 12 students last year and brought in only seven kindergarteners.

Both Richardton-Taylor and South Heart public school districts have new superintendents this year who report a slight decrease for student enrollment at their respective schools.

In Richardton, Superintendent Brent Bautz said the high school is at 115 students at this time compared to 128 last year while the elementary is down by eight students.

South Heart Superintendent Riley Mattson said the K-6 grade facility had 235 last year total and only 227 this year.


"Last year's graduating class had 20 students and this year we are only bringing in 14," Mattson said. "Enrollment should be steady for another year. There are 28 right now in the eleventh grade class and kindergarten classes have been averaging anywhere from 15-20 students for the last few years."

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