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Grand Forks School numbers down, East Grand Forks enrollment continues to rise

Backpacks. (Grand Forks Herald/ Joshua Komer)

Enrollment in Grand Forks Public Schools is down slightly from last year while other districts in the area have seen continued growth.

Grand Forks reported Friday 7,300 students were attending school, which was down from last year's fall count of 7,440. The decrease amounts to about 1.5 percent, and the numbers include children enrolled at Grand Forks Air Force Base schools.

The numbers are up from the May enrollment count of 7,282 students, and the largest grade level for the fall semester was the first grade with 605 students.

The decrease is concerning, Superintendent Terry Brenner said in a news release. He noted enrollment in grades kindergarten through fifth are down by more than 90 students compared to last year.

"A portion of this can be attributed to a smaller kindergarten class," he said.

This is the first time in eight numbers have dropped year-over-year, Brenner said. Enrollment is expected to grow 8 percent by the 2022-23 school year, according to a previous enrollment analysis by educational consulting firm RSP Associates of Overland Park, Kan.

Staff and planners are reviewing the information to determine what it means for the district, Brenner said. The district plans to "provide a formal report later this fall," according to a news release.

Meanwhile, East Grand Forks Public Schools reported 1,939 students were enrolled in its district this fall, a slight increase from the 1,904 count reported for the 2017-18 first day of class, Superintendent Mike Kolness said. It also was up from the end-of-year figure of 1,883.

The district has had a slight uptick in enrollment over the years, which Kolness said is a positive for the schools.

Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks has seen significant growth in the last year, according to Jen Koller, director of marketing and admissions. It reported a fall enrollment of 462 students, or a jump of more than 10 percent from last year, she said. The K-12 numbers are up 43 percent from the end of the 2012-2013 school year, while pre-kindergarten through 12th grade enrollment is up 33 percent.

Increasing enrollment has been one of the goals for Sacred Heart, School President Carl Adolphson said. The district kicked off a campaign and initiatives five years ago to "reinvigorate the school," he said. The school hopes to have two sections of each grade, with 25 students in each section, he said.

"We're very excited about it," he said of the growth.

The school recently broke ground in June on an project that will add seven classrooms to the building. It is expected to wrap up next fall, officials said.

St. Michael's Catholic School in Grand Forks had 187 students in grades pre-kindergarten through fifth, a slight uptick from the 2017 fall count of 168. The Herald was unable to confirm counts for Holy Family-St. Mary's School.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248