- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - An elementary school on the United Tribes Technical College campus in Bismarck is seeking to boost enrollment while pushing the federal government for a new facility.

The majority of students who attend Theodore Jamerson Elementary School have parents who live on campus as students of the college run by American Indian tribes in North Dakota. The school also accepts Native American children from Bismarck and Mandan but has not made a big effort to attract them until now, Principal Sam Azure told The Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1VtCze9 ).

Theodore Jamerson’s student population is just above 100. Azure would like to see it grow to 170, which would mean the school would receive more funding from the federal Bureau of Indian Education. The school dropped eighth grade this year due to low enrollment, and seventh grade has only four students.

“The higher you go in the grades, the lower the number is,” Azure said.

Enrollment woes are due in part to the changing demographics of United Tribes students, according to Azure. The college attracts younger students than it used to, which means those students’ children tend to be younger.

Bismarck’s high cost of living also is a factor, as more young adults are choosing to attend college on their home reservations, he said.

“It’s kind of a catch-22,” Azure said. “We don’t offer the extracurricular activities they should have. We can’t offer them because we don’t have enough students.”

The school opened in 1973 and is spread among 12 buildings on the United Tribes campus. School officials submitted an application for a new school last week to the Bureau of Indian Education, which plans to build several schools this year, Azure said.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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