While North Dakota may be known for its rolling plains, rich cultural history, and the badlands in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, did you also know that this state is home to several large school districts?
North Dakota may fall into the middle of the U.S. News and World Report's education rankings, but the state as a whole is ranked #14. North Dakota's natural environment, solid infrastructure, and low cost of living make it a state to consider raising a family in. Some of the best schools in North Dakota make this state not only an excellent place to live but also a great place to receive a quality education.
Let's dive in to learn more about eight of the largest school districts in the scenic state of North Dakota.
Bismark Public Schools
128 Soo Line Dr., Bismarck, ND 58501
Total Number of Schools: 27
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 13,768 as of the 2022-2023 school year
Serving the capital city of North Dakota and the surrounding areas is Bismark Public Schools. This district is also ranked as the ninth-best school district in the state according to Niche, as well as the overall best school district for athletes, and the seventh-best place to teach. BPS was also founded over 145 years ago with the first graduating class of two students in 1887.
More than 2,000 people are employed throughout the district with the student-to-teacher ratio below the state average at 15:1. BPS also boasts a strong graduation rate with 18% of its high schoolers being members of the National Honor Society. 16% of its seniors also score at or above the 85th percentile on national achievement tests. Additionally, the district has more than 500 classrooms between its elementary, middle, and high schools, Career Academy and Technical Center, and early childhood programs.
West Fargo Public Schools
207 Main Avenue West, West Fargo, ND 58078
Total Number of Schools: 24
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 12,702 as of the 2022-2023 school year
West Fargo Public Schools is the second largest district in North Dakota. The district serves more than 12,000 students in West Fargo and the surrounding area. With 70 different languages spoken throughout the district, West Fargo Public Schools is ranked the tenth most diverse district in the state. The top three languages spoken are Somali, Creole English, and Spanish. 7% of students are English language learners.
Over the years, this district has seen a steady increase in enrollment that's expected to continue to rise. Additionally, the teaching staff has an average of 9 years of experience with 45.5% holding a master's. The student-to-teacher ratio is very low at 13:1 allowing for more individualized care as well.
Fargo Public Schools
700 7th Street South, Fargo, ND 58103
Total Number of Schools: 24
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 11,372
As one of the top ten best school districts in the state, Fargo Public Schools serves Fargo, North Dakota, and the surrounding communities. Students in this district score higher than the state average ACT test score and the average class size is only 19 students. The district also has a free or reduced lunch program, special education services, and an English language learners program.
As the fourth-largest employer of the Fargo-Moorhead community, Fargo Public Schools employs over 2,200 people, making the student-to-teacher ratio very low at 12:1. Additionally, 63% of teachers in this district hold a master's degree or higher, and the average teacher salary is very high compared to some other states.
Minot Public Schools
215 2nd St SE, Minot, ND 57701
Total Number of Schools: 22
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 7,742
As the name implies, Minot Public Schools serves the city of Minot and the surrounding areas. This district is unique in that it has three schools (one middle school and two elementary schools) that are located on Minot Air Force Base, which is 15 miles north of the city. The district also has one school five miles east of the city: Bell Elementary School.
The district's high school is divided between two campuses, and they also offer one alternative high school and an Adult Learning Center. Additionally, the student-to-teacher ratio is well below the state average at 14:1. The district also has two separate school boards with 5 members on each board. One board is for the schools within city limits, and the other represents Minot Air Force Base.
Grand Forks Public Schools
2400 47th Ave. S, Grand Forks, ND 58201
Total Number of Schools: 18
Total Number of Students Enrolled: Approximately 7,400
Ranked as the best school district in Grand Forks County and the seventh-best school district in the state of North Dakota is Grand Forks Public Schools. This district is similar to Minot Public Schools in that it serves both the community of Grand Forks as well as the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The districts are also alike in that Grand Forks has two school boards as well, one from each community.
The student-to-teacher ratio is also very low in this district at 12:1. According to the school district's website, “emphasis is given to lower class size, curriculum, staff qualifications, and student achievement.” Additionally, the school district employs about 1,600 people, with more than 750 employees being teachers.
Mandan Public Schools
901 Division ST NW, Mandan, ND 58554
Total Number of Schools: 11
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 7,529
Serving the area South and West of Bismark is Mandan Public Schools. This district has a vision to have every student “graduate Choice Ready; ready for college, career, and life.” Mandan Public School District is also in the middle of constructing a brand-new high school, projected to open within Mandan city limits in August 2024.
The student-to-teacher ratio is slightly higher in this district, though still lower than the national average at 16:1. Additionally, MPSD is known for its athletic programs, as well as numerous other options for students. These options include an English Learner Program, a special education department, and even Adult Learning.
Dickinson Public Schools
444 4th St W, Dickinson, ND 58601
Total Number of Schools: 12
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 4,100
Located in Western North Dakota is Dickenson Public School District. This district is the largest employer for the city of Dickenson and has also served the surrounding communities since 1893. DPS consists of one high school, one alternative high school, one middle school, 6 grade schools, and 2 online schools to round out its 11 different facilities.
The student-to-teacher ratio is 14:1 and the district employs nearly 700 staff members. DPS states on its website that while growth over the past few years has slightly slowed, the district has still gained more than 1,200 students since 2009. Additionally, the school has an Adult Learning Program and an Early Childhood program that enrolls students in preschool.
Jamestown Public Schools
PO Box 269, 207 2nd Avenue Southeast, Jamestown, ND 58401
Total Number of Schools: 7
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 2,161
While Jamestown Public Schools is smaller than many of the other districts listed here, it's still ranked as the tenth-best school district for athletes in North Dakota according to Niche. The 7 schools in the district consist of one high school, one middle school, and five elementary schools. What makes JPS unique is that it also has an alternative learning center and a transitional living program that assists students with disabilities.
JPS is located in Jamestown and serves the city and the surrounding areas of Stustsman County. Additionally, their student-to-teacher ratio is 12:1 like many other districts on this list. Student proficiency test scores are also higher than the state average, and about 50% of teachers hold a master's degree or higher.
While North Dakota may be known for far more than its educational options, it's clear that these large school districts have a lot to offer their students. From educational opportunities to athletics, fine arts, and specialized programs, every student is sure to find their fit in one of the massive school districts in this state.
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