WATFORD CITY — School enrollment in North Dakota’s fastest-growing small town has increased by 19 percent since May.
Enrollment in the McKenzie County School District, based in Watford City, increased by 255 students since the end of the 2013-14 school year, Superintendent Steve Holen said Wednesday.
“We’re doing as best we can,” Holen said.
The school district has about 1,330 students in grades K-12, Holen said, with more expected to arrive after Labor Day. Watford City started last year with about 1,020 students, he said.
“We were ready for it,” Holen said, adding that the district has been preparing for as many students as possible. “We knew these numbers were coming.”
The superintendent said the district’s facilities are at capacity and students have overflowed into six modular classrooms and labs. Schools are using space set aside for storage and the teacher’s lounge at the elementary school.
Holen said the district believed it would reach this many students by the 2015-16 school year.
School district voters overwhelmingly approved a bond initiative in March to build a new high school in Watford City. The school is tentatively scheduled to be open by the second semester of 2015-16, Holen said .
“We’ll defi nitely need the space at that point,” he said. “If we have another year like this next fall, we’re really going to be pressed for space.”
This year’s initial enrollment is nearly double what it was heading into the 2011-12 school year, when the district opened the year with about 700 students. In 2007-08, the district had 512 students.
This year, the district’s three largest classes are fi rst grade (136), kindergarten (131) and second grade (130). The senior class is the smallest with 75. “Those are big classes for us,” Holen said. “More growth will happen just from top grades dropping off and bottom grades filling those spots.”