At a time where small towns are getting smaller, New England, North Dakota is booming.
The superintendent says in the last decade, the school has grown from about 145 students to 300. $11 million later, with a school busting at the seams, it will now be split off into a brand new building.
Young families are flocking to set up their home base and the local public school has doubled in size.
“We’re just running out of space,” shared science teacher Daryl Jung.
Although it’s K-12, the biggest classes are the kindergarten rooms, some packed to the brim with 30 students. That’s what prompted the new building under construction. It will house Pre-K – 6th-grade students starting in the fall, freeing up the existing building for older students.
“The correctional facility that we have down here has brought quite a few people in. Plus, the energy industry as well,” explained the Superintendent of New England Public School, Kelly Koppinger.
“We see a lot of people that would prefer to live in a smaller environment rather than Dickinson.”
Koppinger says a project of this magnitude is hard to imagine in a town of about 6 to 800 people.
“We added eight classrooms, a kitchen, a cafeteria, music room, new gymnasium, locker rooms,” he described.
“We’ve been having kids eat from 10:30 in the morning until 1:00, just to get them through,” Jung shared.
The science teacher toured the new building for the first time today. He’s a veteran teacher in New England of 49 years. Before that, he was a student.
“I graduated here from New England Public in 1967. We had 20 in ours at that time, and then we really decreased down to a class size of probably eight that we had graduating classes. Now we’ve increased to the 30s,” he said.
Jung is sticking around to see the final product.
“I drive by it every day and I’m really excited about the gymnasium,” he added.
“…I told administration I’d probably stay until that gym was built. I’d like to see it for one year.”
The current gym isn’t cutting it for all of the after-school practices.
“We go down to the corrections center and practice every day there,” Jung explained.
Koppinger says with this new space, the city is prepared for the next 20-25 years of growth. The school took out a $5.6 million loan from the state and another around $5 million from the community’s building fund, funded by local taxes, to make this a reality.
He says the school is also in the process of bringing in additional teachers and
staff to fill the new classrooms.