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More students in some rural Montana schools

simms high school
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Posted at 4:07 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 18:07:33-04

CASCADE COUNTY — Schools across Montana are back in session, and enrollment is on the rise -- and that applies to smaller schools as well for several reasons.

In Simms, they have seen steadily increasing enrollment the last few years, says superintendent David Marzolf, and added that Simms’ four-day school week helps bring kids in as well. They have 119 in high school, including 37 freshmen, some of whom came over from Vaughn.

“The start of school was great, and things went off without a hitch. It’s a good facility with great teachers and we’re seeing a lot of people come out here because of what we offer our students,” Marzolf said.

In Belt, Superintendent Joe Gaylord credits some of the gains he’s seen to the geography and short distance from a larger Montana city.

“When you get closer to a bigger city like Great Falls, Bozeman, Billings, your population is going increase anyhow, plus we have a growing subdivision near town as well, so I expect numbers to continue to go up,” Gaylord said.

Growing subdivisions bring more people to an area but not every school district has that luxury. Highwood is limited in the housing it can provide and Superintendent Jane Suberg says it’s the reason why Highwood isn’t bigger than it currently is, even though they have grown the last few years.

“This year we even had trouble finding housing for our new teachers we brought in, but every year we get people asking about housing in Highwood and there just isn’t any houses or land available for them,” Suberg said.

SNAPSHOT

  • Simms: 309 in K-12; 101 in 9-12 last year, 119 this year
  • Belt: 335 in K-12; 70 in 9-12 last year, 80 this year
  • Highwood: 117 in K-12; 29 in 9-12 last year, 36 this year