INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 14, 2013, 09:01 AM

Old red-brick schoolhouse gets new life in Binford

BINFORD, N.D. (AP) — A 90-year-old red-brick schoolhouse that closed down a decade ago is getting new life in a small North Dakota town, thanks to a surge in enrollment.

BINFORD, N.D. (AP) — A 90-year-old red-brick schoolhouse that closed down a decade ago is getting new life in a small North Dakota town, thanks to a surge in enrollment.

Officials in the Midkota School District, which covers 600 square miles and includes five communities in the east-central part of the state, say using the old building will help alleviate crowded conditions at the elementary school.

The Grand Forks Herald reports that kindergarten through sixth-grade enrollment has increased from 53 to 76 students in the last four years.

"It's a nice problem to have," said Keith Johnson, district school board president. "It's always nice to have to do something because of more students."

The old school opened in about 1920 and closed in 2000. It's attached to the newer Midkota Elementary School through an enclosed lower-level walkway.

School officials say they're using every inch of space. The old music room has become a multi-use destination as a teacher workroom and home to the elementary after-school program. The special needs class has moved into what used to be a sports-equipment room adjacent to the gymnasium. The school library doubles as the sixth-grade classroom.

Overcrowding forced the district to move this year's pre-kindergarten class, with more than a dozen students, to a church in Binford.

While some residents believe there are more people moving into the region because of the oil boom in western North Dakota, neighboring school districts have not seen similar bumps in enrollment. The Carrington district has remained steady, and enrollment in Cooperstown has declined gradually over the past 20 years.

"I think part of it's because of some people who have moved into the area from out of state, some because of the oil field," Johnson said, "but there's more to it."

He also cites a larger-than-average group of district residents who, like himself, are in their late 30s and have families with three or four children.

The Midkota district includes students from Binford, Glenfield, Grace City, McHenry and Sutton. The high school is in Glenfield.

District officials also considered purchasing a portable building, but opted for to remodel. The reconstruction will include roof and plumbing work and some improvements to classrooms.

"The community would hate to see the old school torn down," said Pat Adrian an assistant principal and third grade teacher.

Tags: