Enrollment in Rapid City schools is soaring this year, leaving growth predictions in the dust. And though some are calling it a good problem, it's still a problem.
Projections put this year's enrollment for Rapid City Area Schools at around 13,800 students.
"Being over 14,000 was a little bit of a surprise," said RCAS superintendent Tim Mitchell.
With that surprise of almost 350 new students came a bittersweet realization.
"If these large numbers hold," Mitchell said, "of course that's more money to help the impact of our deficit spending and our budget situation. But on the other hand, we've got places that are full."
So full, he said, the district had to force-transfer between 130 and 160 kids.
"We have added some sections of kindergarten and 1st grade," said Mitchell, "primary grades, in the last week."
Two of those new sections were added at Grandview Elementary.
"We did have the physical room here. We had a kindergarten room that was available," said Annie Andrews, a 12-year veteran kindergarten teacher at Grandview.
But she noted that doesn't mean there weren't problems.
"It does affect the whole school," she said. "We have an extra 25 children that we monitor on the playground. We have a schedule that was tentatively set up and we had to kind of add to that."
Now, with a solution in place for this year, administrators can't help but to wonder where all these kids came from.
"We haven't really figured it out yet," said Mitchell.
Some anecdotal theories include the start of all-day kindergarten in the district this year and parents commuting to booming oil fields from family-friendly Rapid City.
"Long-term plans will have to be analyzed to see what is the most effective and efficient way for us to move forward," Mitchell said.
Some options, if growth continues, include re-drawing boundaries to take advantage of extra space, putting additions on existing schools, and building a new school on available land.