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Indicators are for steady enrollments at schools

Posted 8/02/16 (Tue)

By Carrie Sandstrom
Area schools are preparing for the start of a new year in the next couple of weeks and while hard numbers are not yet available, most districts expect to welcome back about as many students as they ended with last spring.
Tioga’s schools will also be receiving upgrades in the fall, including remodeling the Family and Consumer Sciences classroom. The old classroom was gutted to make way for the new room and new appliances. In addition to the overhaul of the FACS classroom, the school will also be updating classroom and seating area furniture in the new addition of the elementary school, according to Tioga Superintendent Carolyn Eide.
As for enrollment, Eide said the school anticipates holding fairly steady or perhaps losing a few. According to Eide, the school started last year with 481 students, but ended the year with only 440. Based on last year’s ending number, the school is down about 10 percent from the fall of 2014. However, Eide said on a longer timeline, the school is still showing growth.
“We’re still up 200 students from where we were 11 years ago,” due to the oil and increased activity, Eide said.
School starts Aug. 17.
Over in Ray, Superintendent Benjamin Schafer said he anticipates the school will see decreased enrollment -- a prediction that, as of yet, hasn’t come to fruition. 
According to Schafer right now it looks like there are around 300 students who will be attending the school in the fall.
“It was a good surprise to see enrollment stay pretty stable,” Schafer said. “But who knows how the next few weeks will go.”
School starts on Aug. 23.
Powers Lake
Powers Lake Superintendent Sue Gunderson said she expects the school’s enrollment will be up 15 to 20 students from last year’s enrollment of 175. The increase, she said, is due to a small graduating class last year and a large kindergarten class starting this fall.
“We anticipated it,” Gunderson said. “I think we’re prepared and ready to go.”
Powers Lake has its first day of school Aug. 23.
Divide County
Divide County Superintendent Sherlock Hirning said he expects enrollment for this upcoming school year to remain relatively close to last year’s, although it’s a hard thing to predict.
“We never know until the day school starts,” Hirning said.
According to Hirning, officials usually assume that enrollment for an upcoming school year will be fairly close to the enrollment at the end of the previous school year. At the end of the last school year, the district had 340 students, a drop in 15 from the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.
Registration for the Divide County School District will be Aug. 16-18 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. In preparation for the school year to start, the district is working to fill the few vacancies on its staff, including the vocational ag position. The district will also welcome a new playground this school year, although Hirning said he’s not sure when work on the playground will be completed.
School will start on Aug. 24.
Burke Central
In Burke County, Burke Central Superintendent Sherry Lalum said she anticipates the school will be down around 20 students from last year, when they started the school year at around 130. However, class sizes will still be around 10 students each, what Lalum said 
is the “perfect learning environment.”
“People aren’t getting jobs like they used to,” Lalum said. “People from out-of-state, they’re going back to where they started.”
While the number of students may have declined, Lalum said the school will have a breath of fresh air in the form of school improvements.
“The whole look of the school is going to be a lot different than the past,” Lalum said.
Burke Central is one of five counties that didn’t receive full/adequate compensation when oil impact funds were being given out. Upgrades this year will include new carpeting, new lockers and bleachers and new audio systems in the classrooms.
School starts on Aug. 23.

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