Voters in Williston will soon be deciding whether or not they should increase property taxes to pay for new and remodeled school buildings.
A December 11th special election will ask if people in the Williston School District support a 55-million dollar bond issue that would raise property taxes on a 300-thousand dollar home.
As Jim Olson reports, the money would be used to handle the growth in a district at the heart of the state's oil boom.
When this school year started, Williston school officials were scrambling to re-open the McVay Elementary building to house more than 280 new students. Now, district leaders are asking voters to approve a 55-million dollar plan to make some more permanent changes.
(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Williston Superintendent) "We want to add on to Richark Elementary and make that a bigger school to meet the needs of a growing enrollment. But the second thing is we want to build a 5-8 middle school."
Superintendent Dr. Viola LaFontaine says there are several reasons for demolishing the current Wilkinson Elementary School and erecting a grade 5 through 8 middle school on the property adjacent to the football field. Chief among them is the age and condition of Wilkinson.
(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Williston Superintendent) "It's our most tire school, the one that needs the most maintenance."
She says it would also allow moving fifth and sixth graders from the elementary schools in town to a single location with better equipment and study options.
(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Williston Superintendent) "By moving them to middle school, they have state of the art technology and science areas where the 5th and 6th graders could use that along with 7th and 8th graders and you can't do that at each elementary school, the cost is just too great."
If the bond vote passes, work would begin next spring on expanding Rickard Elementary, and once new classrooms were available there, the work to tear down Wilkinson and build a new middle school would begin. LaFontaine says the plan also allows for handling growth in the high school - which is now adjacent to the middle school and could take over the space opened up by building a new middle school. She says it's been decades since the last school bond was passed in Williston.
(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Williston Superintendent) "The last bond referendum that was run in Williston was in 1955 and it was for $850,000 for Lewis & Clark Elementary."
She's hoping the current economic situation in Williston will help voters decide to raise their property taxes to pass the first school bond more than a half-century. In Williston, Jim Olson, KX News.
There are public forums tonight and tomorrow night in Williston that will offer details about the plans for the 55-million dollars.
Tonight's meeting is at Rickard Elementary at seven.
Tomorrow, the meeting will be at Wilkinson Elementary at seven pm.