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Published March 09, 2013, 03:46 PM

Study looks at school enrollment in ND's oil patch

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) — Enrollment at K-12 schools in North Dakota's booming oil patch could increase by hundreds or thousands of students over the next five years, according to a new study from North Dakota State University.

By: WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) — Enrollment at K-12 schools in North Dakota's booming oil patch could increase by hundreds or thousands of students over the next five years, according to a new study from North Dakota State University.

The study, which was commissioned by the North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties, used three different models to gauge what enrollment numbers would be for the 2017-2018 school year, Forum Communications reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/VTDbOK ).

"The reason why there wasn't a single model chosen as the definitive answer is because there's not a lot of good data out there," said co-author Dean Bangsund, a research scientist at the NDSU agribusiness and applied economics department. "We tried to use the models in a way that would provide some context to what we know has happened in the oil patch."

The first model showed that Dickinson's enrollment would increase by 500 in K-12, while Watford City would see 1,100 new students.

The second — and most conservative — estimate based public school enrollment on permanent employment trends. This model put enrollment in Dickinson at 3,391 and 1,167 in Watford City.

"We know there's a lot employment out in the region right now that falls into the category that we call 'temporary,'" said Nancy Hodur, study lead and research assistant professor in the NDSU agribusiness and applied economics department. "That is, folks that are just here for a short period of time — maybe a few months to a few years — or they're people that are here that work in North Dakota but don't live in North Dakota."

The final model is based on housing potential and shows that Dickinson could see as many as 5,262 students in the district by 2017 — an 87 percent increase over this year's enrollment.

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