As we all know here in North Dakota, the oil boom has brought an influx of people to rural North Dakota; formerly small towns are now growing rapidly.  The rapid flood of people is straining the local services, and schools are no exception. The public school system in Williston is getting more crowded, and their outdated facilities have not been able to catch up.   

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Since there is no room to put all the additional students, schools are adding temporary modular classrooms.  According to an article in the Voice of America, the superintendent of Williston schools, Viola LaFontaine, stated: “We’ve increased enrollment of over 1,000 students in the past four to five years.  And a majority of them are elementary students, about 70 percent of them are elementary students.”

Williston is the fastest growing public school district in North Dakota, and it is quickly becoming more international.  There are about 7 different languages spoken in the school now.  This presents additional challenges to the school district.  Teachers now have bigger class sizes, smaller classrooms, foreign languages, and a constantly changing group of students.  Students come in and out throughout the entire year, and also many students leave during the school year. 

Also, schools are faced with issues such as recruiting qualified teachers and financing construction of new buildings to accommodate the additional student head count.  The Williston superintendent believes some of that oil revenue needs to go towards supporting schools.  She says: “North Dakota’s always been conservative. I don’t think that’s a bad thing," she said. "But now that you’ve got ample resources, let us have some of it.  Whether it’s grants or loans or preferably grants that you could use to really support your schools.”

Source: Voice of America