FARGO - The growth of the Fargo-Moorhead metro area is showing up in local schools.
First-day enrollment for the Fargo School District for the 2017-18 school year was 11,400 students on Thursday, Aug. 24.
That is up 175 students, or 1.6 percent from the start of the 2016-17 school year, Fargo School District figures show.
Central Cass School in Casselton, N.D., had 916 students on Thursday, an increase of 57 over last fall's opening enrollment of 859, Superintendent Morgan Forness said.
Northern Cass School in Hunter, N.D., also saw a significant jump in enrollment, opening with 650 students on Wednesday, Aug. 23, up about 50 from the end of the 2016-17 school year, Superintendent Cory Steiner said.
Enrollment at Fargo's Grace Lutheran School slipped, however. The school had about 70 students on Wednesday in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, down about 10 from last year, Principal John Hagge said.
However, Hagge said more than a dozen families are still determining where they want their children to attend, and he expects at least five to seven more students to be enrolled in coming days.
Fargo Superintendent Jeff Schatz said his district's increase was on the upper end of enrollment projections, which estimate the district will average 100 to 150 new students per year.
Fargo's Davies High School opened with 1,265 students, up 44 from last year. South High School had 1,045 students, up 19 from last year, while North High School had 896 students, a drop of 34 from last year.
Fargo's Discovery Middle School on the far south side of the district opened with 1,004 students, up 34 from last year, and Ben Franklin Middle School on the north side of the district had 818 students, up 51 from last year. Carl Ben Eielson, in the central part of the district, opened with 764 students, down 15 from last year.
Schatz said Fargo's growth is spread throughout the district, but growth on the south side has led to space concerns at Discovery Middle School and Davies High School.
In Central Cass, Forness said, "we are not only meeting the growth trend, we're exceeding it."
Forness said Casselton is benefitting from families wanting to live in a bedroom community and are looking beyond West Fargo. Forness said existing homes sell quickly and new homes are going up in two developments.
"There's a lot taking place here right now that's real positive," Forness said.
Central Cass School is in the midst of $26 million in renovations and additions. Interior remodeling was finished this summer, as well as work on an updated athletic complex. Over the next year, an elementary school addition, theater and community center are to be built, Forness said.
At Northern Cass, Steiner said young families in the area have been having children, more families are moving to the district, and this fall 16 students open enrolled into the district.
"Families are looking for small schools with big school opportunities. I think the small schools on the outskirts of the metro area can offer that," Steiner said.
The growth is filling Northern Cass faster than expected, he said. "We're tight. We're certainly short on space." Steiner said.
St. John Paul II Catholic Schools opened classes Tuesday with 1,258 students, up 56 students from last fall's first day, President Mike Hagstrom said.
Oak Grove Lutheran School had about 590 students enrolled in kindergarten through Grade 12 on its two campuses, and another 100 in prekindergarten, Director of Marketing Steven Rezac said. Last fall, Oak Grove opened with 556 students in grades K-12, and about the same number of pre-kindergarteners, President Mike Slette said.