Wilfred Volesky: Need for the census survey data
On Oct. 13, the Mandan School District had a letter and a census survey sent to every resident in the school district as well as to every family outside the district that sends their children to a Mandan School. Over 9,800 letters were mailed out. The letter provided an explanation of the purpose of the survey and encouraged the patron to complete the survey and return it as soon as possible. Hopefully you did as the letter requested and completed and returned your survey, even if you do not have children in school at the present time.
The purpose of the survey is to determine where all children ages 0 to 18 years of age live in our school district. We have demographic information on students that currently attend school in Mandan. What we lack is information on children that are 0 to 5 years old. Years ago it was a requirement that school districts needed to do a school census at least every other year. Since it is no longer a requirement the Mandan School District has not done a census for quite some time. The census did provide student demographic data that was helpful in long-term planning.
Once the data from the census survey is compiled we will be able to determine the number of students that we can expect in each grade level for the next five years. We will also be able to determine where the majority of students ages 0 to 5 reside in our district. With that information we can determine how we are going to deal with the increase in student enrollment that occurred this fall and that will likely continue in the future. At the present time our enrollment at certain elementary grade levels exceeds the number desired for each child to receive proper instruction. Even though we would like to add a teacher, especially in grades K-2, we do not have the space available in any of our elementary schools to do so.
So what are our options in dealing with the overcrowding at the elementary level. The school board has been looking at the following options. 1) Add four classrooms on to Fort Lincoln Elementary. The school was built so that four classrooms could be added without a huge cost since equipment for heating and cooling in the original building could be used for the addition. 2) Build a new elementary school in the northwest section of the City. We currently own 30 acres of land in northwest Mandan that was purchased years ago for the purpose of building a school. 3) Purchase land in the Lakewood area of Mandan for a future elementary school and/or 4) Use the old junior high and move a grade from all elementary schools to this location. The school board considers this to be a temporary solution and the least desirable of all the options.
Before any of the options can be considered seriously, we need to review the data that the census survey will provide. If we determine that a large percentage of our preschool and early elementary grade students live in the northwest part of our school district it would seem reasonable to consider building an elementary school in that area. If the data indicates a large percentage of our preschool and early elementary grade students reside in the southeast part of the city we may need to consider building a school in that area. The information we receive from the survey will help us decide the best way to alleviate the overcrowding we are currently experiencing in our elementary schools.
Many of the surveys have already been returned. If you have already completed and returned your survey, we thank you for doing so. If you have not completed a survey and returned it to us please do so immediately. If you have misplaced your survey please go to the Mandan District website at www.mandan.k12.nd.us and complete the survey online. You can also call us at 663-4902 and we will get a survey to you.
We are hoping to get 90 percent of the surveys returned so that the data is complete and accurate. Your assistance in completing and returning the survey will assure the accuracy of the data and will eliminate the need for us to contact you.