A community task force is meeting this month in Williston to devise a plan for dealing with overcrowding in the city’s schools.
Voters rejected a 76-million dollar bond issue in March that would have expanded the new high school and built two new elementary schools.
That led to the formation of the current task force which has two main goals in addressing crowded schools: spend no more than 74 million dollars, and get class size below 25.
Jim Olson takes us to Williston High School where, as it begins its third year of service, the building is already beyond capacity.
You can see an oil pumping platform from a window at the nearly new Williston High School. So it makes sense that this is the home of the Bakken Shuffle.
It’s not the sound of over 1280 students moving through its gleaming hallways. It’s the annual flow of students – into and out of – the high school as families arrive at and leave the Bakken region.
(Jason Germundson, Williston HS Principal) “This year we had 99 students leave, but we had 200 new students come in. That’s a positive 101.”
And that has helped push the population of the high school beyond full.
(Jason Germundson, Williston HS Principal) “The building was built for 1200, and now we’re pushing 1300, 1400, it’s just off the charts as far as our student growth.”
(Heath Glenn, Williston HS Teacher) “I’ve got three classes with 30 students so that’s pretty full.”
Heath Glenn is an example of how the high school is adjusting to the exploding enrollment. He has not specific classroom, but rather ‘roams’ to various parts of the building.
(Heath Glenn, Williston HS Teacher) “You work around it and do what you gotta do. The kids are always number one so we can’t help the numbers, we just gotta deal with the numbers and the hand that are given to us and we find a way every time.”
(Dr. Jeff Thake, Williston Superintendent) “When our class sizes get around 27-30 students, we’re looking for ways to either add another position to alleviate some of the class sizes – we’re just looking for more space to creatively serve our kids.”
And so with the Bakken Shuffle dealing a full house to the high school…
(Jason Germundson, Williston HS Principal) “Yeah, we’re bursting at the seams.”
Williston continues to search for answers – both now and in the future – to its enrollment explosion. Jim Olson, KX News.
While considering options for additions and new buildings, school officials are also looking into other funding options to deal with the crush of students in Williston’s schools.