Minot News

Watford City Schools Deal With Largest-Ever Student Population Increase

Watford City, ND - The boom is back in Watford City.
At least the schools are seeing unprecedented growth.
Jim Olson takes us to the district where the student population has grown by nearly 20% since last school year.

"Jelly and drinking juice..."

It was "J Day" in Mrs.Cranston's kindergarten classroom

"Remember the name of our elephant? What was his name? Jumbo!"

An appropriate word for Watford City's elementary school - because their student population has become pretty jumbo.

(Steve Holen, Watford City Superintendent) "We had to add another section in kindergarten, we have about 191 kindergartners."

Which brings up another "J" word...

"Raise your hand if you've ever juggled..."

Yeah, they've been juggling teachers, classrooms, even entire grade levels.

(Steve Holen, Watford City Superintendent) "We had to get a bit creative and move the third graders out of our elementary school, so it's a K-2 building now with a 3-6 building along with a 7-12."

All of this has been caused by the biggest-ever single year student population increase in Watford City's history this fall - a jump of almost 300.

(Steve Holen, Watford City Superintendent) "We're looking at about 1830 students right now. We have capacity of about 1900-2000, so with another good growth year like this year we would definitely have a space situation."

The district is well down the path to adding another building - with plans for a new elementary school expected to be finalized soon. Holen, who is starting his 14th year at the helm of Watford City's schools, has seen student numbers balloon from 512 in 2008, to the 1830 today.

(Steve Holen, Watford City Superintendent) "We've tried to stay ahead of it, we're proud of our facilities, but we're going to have to keep going."

Meanwhile, back at the kindergarten through second grade building, one teacher says the population explosion has been handled pretty well.

(Aleishia Cottrell, 2nd Grade Teacher) "It is a lot of students....but it doesn't feel overcrowded."

And in classrooms with lots of little learners, that can make a teacher jump for joy.
In Watford City, Jim Olson, KX News.

Here's an amazing fact about Watford City's schools - in Superintendent Holen's first year, 2005, the population of Watford City was 1,347.
Today, there are almost 500 more than that enrolled in the city's schools.
 


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