MISSOULA, Mont. - From the crossing guards out in full force, to parents dropping their kids off, summer vacation is over for many school kids in Missoula.
"It has been super exciting and the kids have been excited to be here," said Paxson Elementary first grade teacher Heather Roos.
As kids returned to classes, school officials told NBC Montana of a projected enrollment increase. According to preliminary numbers, the district's K-12 student enrollment is projected to come in at roughly 8,700 students, compared with 8,323 students at the end of last year. Executive Regional Director Mark Thane says a stretch of higher birth rates in Missoula is playing a role.
"We had declines in the enrollment at the high school levels the last several years, so we're looking toward reversing that trend, " said Thane. Thane explained that with higher enrollment numbers, the district is able to utilize more state funds, and while classes are swelling, the sizes still meet state standards.
School officials also say there's also a larger-than-anticipated freshman class, and Hellgate High had to stop taking out-of-area students.