Grand Forks School District enrollment up 191 students from spring of 2022

Board discusses need to upgrade fire safety and building security, honors Ben Franklin Elementary.

Grand Forks Public Schools
Grand Forks Public Schools
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GRAND FORKS – Grand Forks Public Schools gained 191 students from the previous academic year’s end, according to data presented at the district’s meeting on Monday.

The report, presented by Brenda Lewis, assistant superintendent of elementary education, cites overall enrollment of 7,439 students at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year. The district’s elementary schools gained 52 students, its middle schools two and most significantly, the high schools gained 137 students.

Josh Mailhot, recently hired as principal of Ben Franklin Elementary School, addressed the board. He said his first months on the job have been overwhelmingly positive.

“In the short three months that I’ve been at Ben Franklin, it has been an absolute delight,” said Mailhot. “I’ve been in the educational environment for 15 years, and I feel like I’ve spent all of them here.”

Mailhot demonstrated his commitment to Ben Franklin, before even starting his new position, by handwriting 330 letters to each of his students. He used the letters to introduce himself and ask about their summer.


“I want my kids to feel wanted and safe at Ben Franklin,” said Mailhot. “In the student survey last year, 55% of our kids said they felt safe. While 55% is a pretty good number, over half, I want that number to be 100%. That’s one of the reasons I decided to write the letters.”

Mailhot also praised the efforts of the school’s three student teachers, as well as its paraprofessional and speech language pathologist. He said they have worked hard assisting students who are struggling with learning disabilities and social anxiety to feel included in Ben Franklin’s community.

The board outlined its plan for an upgrade to the district’s emergency communications system upgrade. This initiative would improve fire and carbon monoxide detection capabilities, upgrade surveillance systems and install a mass notification system, for coordinated emergency response.

Darin Johnson, director of building and grounds, petitioned the board to approve the hiring of a construction manager at risk. This position would oversee a team of engineers and subcontractors working on the building improvements, adhere to budgetary ceilings and assist with planning and engineering.

“This person that we are looking to hire would have a vast knowledge,” said Johnson. “They’re going to help us negotiate with the subcontractors, and would know from previous experience how to keep production going.”

The board approved director Johnson’s request to begin the search for a construction manager at risk.

In other board news:

  • The board expressed its gratitude toward the city and the North Dakota Museum of Art, for their collaboration in celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day.
  • Brandon Baumbach, the district's business manager, presented the finance committee's end of fiscal year review. Baumbach maintains that the district is on a sound fiscal trajectory, as it exceeded its goal of retaining 7.81% of total expenditures as year-end savings. The district's target is to increase this percentage of year-end savings to 15% of total expenditures by 2026.
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