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Private schools increase enrollment in Flathead Co.

By Paige Sedgewick, Reporter, psedgewick@kcfw.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 06:36:26 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 16 2013 08:52:35 PM MST
WHITEFISH, Mont. -

Whitefish Christian Academy reports an 82-percent increase in student enrollment over the last two and a half years. More Whitefish Christian students fill the classroom and are busy at work, and Headmaster Todd Kotila couldn't be happier about it.

"We are excited that God has blessed us this much,” said Kotila.  

But administrators made some changes on their own to increase enrollment. They made bumper stickers, coffee sleeves, and even bought a billboard once to raise awareness. Kotila credits parents and the improving economy.

"It's actually parents experiencing the phenomenal job we do in the classroom, talking to other parents. This really had the major effect on our school," said Kotila.  

And it's welcome news. Enrollment slowed when the recession hit, and it hit the Flathead harder than most Montana counties.

Out of seven private schools in the Flathead, Whitefish Christian is one of four reporting higher enrollment.

If Whitefish Christian Academy continues increasing enrollment, there's talk of expanding the school. There's even talk of building a high school.

But private education isn't everyone's choice. One mother told NBC Montana she's pleased with public schools.

"I’ve had such a wonderful experience through the public school system. The teachers have gone above and beyond to help my students, my kids," said Wendy Skelton.

But Kalispell’s public schools are growing too. Back in February we told you Kalispell Elementary enrollment has jumped 30 percent since 2002.

From public to private, administrators around the Flathead work to accommodate more students but the increase appears most dramatic for private schools like Whitefish Christian Academy.