The state of the schools

Bus drivers needed as Madison County's student ENROLLMENT jumps five percent

Each fall Madison County Superintendent Pam Birkeland compiles a rundown of enrollment for each of the county’s five districts to be used for Office of Public Instruction budgeting purposes for the following year. During the process she also compiles other pertinent info, including staffing, bus routes and more.

Birkeland provided the data to Madison County Commissioners, noting that, as of Oct. 4, 2021, 43 more students were attending Madison County schools this year compared to last.

Ennis School District welcomed 24 new students while Harrison School District’s enrollment dropped by one. Sheridan Elementary had a marked rise in enrollment with 28 new students; Sheridan High School enrollment was up by one. Twin Bridges high school enrollment went up by nine. Alder’s enrollment dropped from 30 to 12 due to many of its students moving into other Madison County districts.

“We’re doing really well,” Birkeland told commissioners in regard to enrollment numbers, “And I would suspect it’s going to continue to grow.”

Birkland said that while the county has certainly seen an increase in retired and second homeowner residents, it’s also seeing young families who can work virtually or are priced out of other areas purchase homes here. Birkeland’s own difficulty getting her grandson in daycare was yet another indicator, she said, that elementary classes will continue to grow.

Forty-five percent of Madison County’s students are eligible to ride the bus. Unfortunately, the national bus driver shortage has not spared the county. This year Sheridan had to cut one of its routes into two, combining the sections into two other routes.

Ennis is discussing the potential demise of its Virginia City route currently being driven by the district’s superintendent and elementary principal.

Twin Bridges had a boon to its program this year, thanks to a new family to the district with two parents, CDL certified, who signed up to drive bus. If that hadn’t occurred, Twin was also facing route cuts.

“So, it’s a crisis,” said Birkeland, discussing with the commissioners the job’s intrinsic challenge as a low-hour, split-shift position. “If you, in your spare time want to drive a bus or know anybody who would be willing to, this has been on the reader board at every school district in our county for the last four or five years. We’re in dire need of bus drivers.”

Ennis School District

Total enrollment: 411

Largest class: 4th grade (38 students)

Certified teaching staff: 36

Classified staff: 24

Bus routes: 4, 156 eligible riders*, 345 miles per day

Sheridan School District

Total enrollment: 217

Largest class: Kindergarten (30 students)

Certified teaching staff: 22

Classified staff: 16

Bus routes: 3, 84 eligible riders, 272 miles per day

Twin Bridges School District

Total enrollment: 210

Largest class: Kindergarten (34 students)

Certified teaching staff: 20

Classified staff: 13

Bus routes: 4, 152 eligible riders*, 299.4 miles per day

Harrison School District

Total enrollment: 95

Largest class: 8th grade (12 students)

Certified teaching staff: 13

Classified staff: 10

Bus routes: 4, 32 eligible riders*, 153.3 miles per day

Alder School District

Total enrollment: 12

Largest class: 4th grade (4 students)

Certified teaching staff: 2

Classified staff: 7

Bus routes: 0

Home school

Total enrollment: 102, down three from the year prior

Out of the county’s 945 registered students, 11% are homeschooled

*To be eligible to ride the school bus, Madison County students must live three or more miles from school.  

Add Article to Front Page Categorized News

More Information

The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

Cori Koenig, editor:
Susanne Hill, billing: 
Ad orders, inserts, classifieds: 
Comment Here