BOZEMAN, Mont. -

The Bozeman School District is facing another year of record enrollment.  The elementary district grew by 80 to 85 students this year, the high school, by about 65 students, twice as many as anticipated.

Folks with the Bozeman school district say students are their number one priority but admit, high enrollment numbers can have an impact on students.

"The fact of the matter is, they do impact, they impact the lunch period and the playground," says Bozeman School District Deputy Superintendent of Operations Steve Johnson.

Johnson says, with nearly 6,000 kids enrolled this school year, their primary goal is keeping class sizes as close to the state standard as possible and that they've done a pretty good job for the most part but they've had to make some adjustments.

"We had, at one time, technical classrooms in each school.  We've had to eliminate those and convert those to classrooms," says Johnson.

Johnson says they've had a few instances where the class sizes are over the state standards.

"In those instances, K-5th anyway, the remedy is to add paraprofessional time to help the teacher with those overloaded situations," says Johnson.

But at the middle school level, there are some cases where is no remedy when it comes to state standards.

"We do have some class sizes over 30 and that is the state standard and so, we're going to be looking next year, at next year's budget to try to remedy that to the extent that we can- getting more teaching staff at the middle schools to get those class sizes down," says Johnson.

"They've been pretty creative," says Bozeman parent Mike Papke.

Papke says he welcomes the approach the district's taken at Hawthorne elementary.  His daughter has been in a kindergarten-first grade class and now a first-second grade class.

I think we live in a unique spot and I think we're going to always see growth and to have new families enjoying this area, I think we're going to always see growth and to have new families enjoying this area, I think, from what I've seen so far as a new parent in the school system, they've doing a great job.

We talked to a Bozeman parent who has a similar take.  She has three boys at Longfellow and while she believes smaller class sizes are best, she has no complaints but she does wonder about the next school her boys attend.

"I think that at Longfellow, I'm really satisfied but, as they move into even bigger school situations, there isn't as much maybe of the personal communications between teachers and students that kind of can create the magic," she says.

For now, school officials say they're not going to build any schools based on projections, not until the kids are here and the need exists.  Yet, Johnson says they do have an eye on the future.
     
Folks with the Bozeman School District say the eighth elementary school will relieve some of the pressure at Hyalite and Morningstar which are both overcapacity.
     
They add, one area where enrollment is lower than expected is kindergarten, which means they'll have that much longer before elementary school nine is in the works.