Wahpeton schools facing enrollment fluctuations

Wahpeton Public Schools’ last recorded enrollment is slightly higher than what the district ended the 2018-2019 education year with. Information shows patterns of declines, increases and stability.

Wahpeton Public Schools reached the midseason of the 2019-2020 education year with 1,218 students, 21 fewer than it began the year with.

Superintendent Rick Jacobson and the Wahpeton School Board viewed the latest information Wednesday, Jan. 8. Current enrollment is slightly higher than what the district ended the 2018-2019 year with, an estimated 1,205 total students.

“We don’t know if the migrant population that left in November is going to come back in the spring. Enrollment is always a concern,” Jacobson said.

The latest information shows a pattern of monthly enrollment declines, but also patterns of increases and stability.

Zimmerman Elementary gained six students total between Aug. 30-Dec. 20, 2019. Between Oct. 31-Dec. 20, enrollment remained consistent with 20 preschoolers and 97 kindergarteners. In August, Zimmerman had 111 total students. In December, the school had 117 students.

Wahpeton Elementary, which ended August with 428 students, ended December with 421 students. Enrollment for grades 1-5 tended to have monthly fluctuations ranging from the loss of two total students to the gain of three total students. The third and fifth grades had consistent enrollment in November and December, 86 for the former and 77 for the latter.

Wahpeton Middle School, which ended August with 316 students, ended December with 311 students. The largest fluctuations affected the seventh grade, which ranged from 107 students in August to 103 students in November and December. In September and October, 106 students were enrolled.

Wahpeton High School saw the largest decline, from 380 students in August to 363 students in December. Enrollment declined by one student between August-September, six students between September-October, nine students between October-November and one student between November-December. Fluctuations occurred each in each grade.

WPS37, consisting of students who are placed outside the district, also saw fluctuations. There were four students at the end of August and September, three students on Oct. 31, five students on Nov. 27 and six students on Dec. 20.

“Even this week, we’ve heard there’s been movement out (of the district) again,” Jacobson said. “How much in? We’ll be interested to see at the end of the month what happens.”

Jacobson delivered an update from Dan Rood, Jr., director of the Southeast Region Career and Technology Center (SRCTC), regarding the ongoing expansion of the Wahpeton Agriculture Education Facility adjacent to the high school.

“Over half of the concrete floor has been poured. I think the idea is that they’re going to pour the last section of it (Thursday, Jan. 9),” Jacobson said.

The $650,000 project is possible through a partnership of Wahpeton Public Schools, SRCTC and North Dakota State College of Science. The facility is expected to be completed by the end of the 2019-2020 education year.

In other news, Wahpeton’s board unanimously accepted the resignations of John Norton as middle school custodian and Julie Prochaska as substitute paraprofessional and substitute teacher for the district. The board also approved the hiring of Jordan Ralph as middle school custodian, Colin Brownlee as seventh grade boys basketball coach and Preston Kath as eighth grade boys basketball coach.

Board Director Jake Kubela was absent from the meeting.

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12 at Wahpeton High School, 1021 11th St. N. in Wahpeton.

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