School Choice Helps Small School Grow


A small school that is in its fourth year of offering high school is already bursting at the seams.
Jim Olson takes us to South Prairie, where expansion is in the works.

(Margo Knorr, South Prairie Parent) “We had heard many great things about South Prairie and it was the small school atmosphere we were looking for.”

Margo and Steve Knorr started sending their three kids to South Prairie – located about a dozen miles south of Minot – last school year.

(Margo Knorr, South Prairie Parent) “I got to know the teachers in a way that a small school atmosphere brings.”
(Darwin Routledge, South Prairie HS Principal) “They want opportunities for their kids but they also want a small school atmosphere and we provide that.”

Darwin Routledge has been at South Prairie since it expanded and added grades nine through 12 in 2015. Now, barely three years later, the school is filled up.

(Darwin Routledge, South Prairie HS Principal) “I believe when I started we were about 280 and today we’re about 466.”

That’s why architects have been hired and plans are moving ahead on an expansion.

(Darwin Routledge, South Prairie HS Principal) “This area is where we’re going to connect any new addition to make it more cost-effective to attach the building. They planned in advance for places we could expand.”

Routledge credits the school’s ability to give a Class B-feel so close to Minot for the growth. And with open enrollment, people can choose to send kids here, if there is room.

(Darwin Routledge, South Prairie HS Principal) “We do allow open enrollment in certain classes. Some classes, we view them as capped. If we have too many students we won’t allow more in those classes. But grades where we can absorb students, we take them.”
(Margo Knorr, South Prairie Parent) “We were really thrilled to be able to go out there and have the option of open enrollment.”

Routledge says the new classrooms and shop area could be ready by the end of this year but are a near certainty within two years. At South Prairie, Jim Olson, KX News.

The principal says South Prairie has benefitted from being so close to Minot, both for attracting students and for finding teachers.

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