Population of Students May Outgrow New Schools - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Population of Students May Outgrow New Schools

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As Bismarck continues to grow, many residents wonder if two new elementary schools are big enough.

Taxpayers helped approve the building of Lincoln and Liberty Elementaries in the fall of 2012, But the population of students might already be outgrowing the new schools.

The school board works to make the grade when it comes to adjusting to the issue of an increasing enrollment.

So far, 507 students are registered at Liberty Elementary and 475 at Lincoln Elementary for the fall.

Both schools are technically built to hold 488 students.

Superintendent Tamara Uselman says the school board did know this was going to happen...

and planned for it.

"The lunch room is built for 100 more than that. The gyms are built for 100 more than that. The music space is built for 100 more than that so that's what we call having a bigger core and what we can do as a district when we're at the point of needing extra space is to put an addition on of four classrooms for about 100 more students," says Tamara Uselman, Superintendent, BPS.

Uselman says the school board is aware of capacity issues across the district but they want to be conservative.

"While parents might have some frustration about that, the flip side is if the board would have overbuilt and the space wasn't needed they would have been accused of misusing taxpayer money. So this is kind of that happy medium," says Uselman.

Both Liberty and Lincoln are designed to be able to add on to the facilities once the schools are too full.

"We feel confident about handling the inflow of kids that we're getting right now." says Shelly Swanson, Lincoln Elementary Principal.

Lincoln Elementary just finished its first school year...

And principal Shelly Swanson says they expect to see an additional 120 students in the coming fall.

"But certainly there is a point in time where I imagine we would be considered full."

Uselman wants to assure the public that the school board studies enrollment and growth at least once a month.

"You only have so much money in a bond, you can only build so much square footage at a time, and when that's maximized their ace in the hole, like I said, is that they built that core big enough to hold more classrooms and it really is a brilliant plan on their part and careful with our tax dollars," says Uselman.

Uselman says adjusting to increased enrollment is a constant project and continues to be every year.

Uselman says Bismarck is projected to see an additional 300 to 350 students in the coming years.

Middle Schools are also getting close to capacity which she says will be another issue in the next two to three years.

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