The Grand Forks school district enrolled 132 more students in September compared to the last day of school in May, according to a report presented to the School Board at its regular meeting Monday, Oct. 11.

Most of the increase, 119 students, occurred in the high schools, with the elementary student population increasing by 55. Middle school enrollment dropped by 42.

Overall public school enrollment in Grand Forks was 7,404 as of Sept. 30, compared to 7,272 last May. This year’s fall enrollment stands at: 3,435 for the elementary grades, 1,699 for middle school; and 2,270 for high school.

Comparing last fall to this fall, overall enrollment dropped by nine students, with the largest decrease, 40 students, occurring in the middle school grades -- 1,739 to 1,699. Elementary school enrollment rose by 13 and high school enrollment rose by 18.

The district’s demographer had projected a fall 2021 enrollment of 7,523, 119 more than the actual enrollment. However, the projections were probably calculated “pre-COVID” and the demographer could not foresee how the pandemic would affect enrollment, said Brenda Lewis, assistant superintendent of elementary education.

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The smallest K-5 elementary schools, enrollment-wise, in the district are Wilder and Lewis & Clark, each with 166 students, followed by Phoenix, with 219. The largest elementary school is Discovery, which enrolls 507 students, followed by Kelly, with 476.

At Grand Forks Air Force Base, Twining Elementary and Middle School enrolls 311 students in grades K-8.

Middle school, grades 6-8, enrollment is 527 at Schroeder, 575 at South and 524 at Valley.

Grand Forks Central High School has 1,123 enrolled, Red River High School 1,059 and Community High School, an alternative school, 88.

Election results

On Monday, the board also officially canvassed the results of the Sept. 28 special election which resulted in a 65.85% approval by voters to increase the number of mills, from 10 to 20, for the district’s building fund. The approval of this referendum will generate about $2.5 million annually for the fund.

A total of 4,190 ballots were cast, 3,618 on election day and 572 as absentee ballots, said Scott Berge, the district’s business manager. "Yes" votes totaled 2,759 and "no" votes totaled 1,426.

A handful of other votes were received, have been verified and will be included in the final canvassing, he said.

That compares to about 5,400 ballots cast during the first referendum, which included this question, in the June 22 election. The other question presented to voters June 22 was for approval of an $86 million bond issue to build a new K-8 school, consolidate several north-side schools, and pay for infrastructure improvement and other needs throughout the district. Both questions failed to gain the necessary 60% approval required for passage -- the mill increase with about 54% and the bond issue with about 30%.

In other action Monday, the board:

  • Heard a report from Doug Carpenter, a board member who serves on the Finance Committee, about that committee’s plans to meet with the Facilities Committee to determine the process for approaching another budget-reduction exercise for the next budget year and how to use the $2.5 million that will be generated annually by the extra mills for the building fund.

  • Approved the issuance of an employment contract for Shannon Schneeweis, a licensed social worker with a bachelor’s degree, for a position as a social worker for Kelly Elementary, Schroeder Middle and Twining Elementary and Middle School, at the salary, $36,304;

  • Approved the first reading of several policies that have been amended and rescinded other redundant policies, according to input from the North Dakota School Board Association

The School Board met via Zoom on Monday, in an abbreviated meeting, in order to allow members and administrators to attend an Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration later that evening.