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Bakken schools keeping eye on low, fluctuating oil prices

BISMARCK, N.D. — Some school administrators in North Dakota’s Bakken oil region are keeping an eye on student enrollment as oil prices fluctuate and some families leave for work elsewhere.

Officials at schools in Dickinson, Tioga, Ray, Williston and Parshall are watching some students leave along with the drilling rigs as oil prices stay low. But others, like in Watford City and Stanley, are not, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Dickinson Public School superintendent Doug Sullivan said enrollment is down 98 students, or about 3 percent, compared to the fall. But he’s still expecting growth based on the kindergarten registration numbers.

“We’ll be watching this summer, and we monitor this on a weekly basis,” he said. “If oil prices creep up, we may start with more. It’s hard to project exactly what’s going to transpire.”

In Ray, school enrollment is down 9 percent since fall to 270, and principal Arley Larson said it’s tough to predict from one day to the next.

“We play the game with what we’ve got. When people leave it’s usually pretty quick, and the kids don’t even know. We just had one student who came to school in the morning and his mother came in the afternoon and said they were leaving,” he said.

But in other communities, the drop in oil prices and the reduction in active oil rigs haven’t taken a toll on enrollment.

Principal Jim Swegarden at Stanley Public School said he’s seen a few students come and go, and there may be others whose parents are waiting for the end of the school year to make a move, but he said they’re not leaving in droves.

“It’s not an exodus,” he said. “We’re in the education business, not the oil business. When they come through our doors, we educate them.”

In related news, Growing pains: Oil boom turns prairie school to melting pot.

Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.