Rural School Set to Expand - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Rural School Set to Expand

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School bond votes for expansion have been popular over the last few years.

Bismarck, West Fargo, Grafton, Wahpeton...all have voted in favor of growth in recent years.

Kenmare, Bottineau, and Minot will vote on bond issues this year too.

But there is another school looking to expand -- and not just in physical size, but to move from what's known as a 'graded elementary' to a full K through 12 school.

Perry Olson has the story.

Student numbers are up at South Prairie...

(Wayne Stanley - South Prairie Superintendent) "Currently we are two sections of K, first, second, third, fifth grades. We have two portables outside and have taken old janitorial closets and now they are used as spare rooms. We need to expand some way, some how."

That expansion could soon come, and bring with it a big change. South Prairie is a 'graded elementary' meaning they only educate kindergartners through 8th graders. An upcoming bond vote would change that.

(Wayne Stanley - South Prairie Superintendent) "Ultimately it is time for us to take on our own educational responsibilities."

If passed, the district would add on to the school -- and add high school, making it a full class B institution, similar in size to Surrey or Velva. It would keep kids in their home school...and eliminate a fight that seems to come up here every two years. Each legislative session, almost without fail, a bill to shut down graded elementary schools is voted upon.

(Wayne Stanley - South Prairie Superintendent) "It is scary because a lot of the time it is Minot legislators who are presenting the bills to close down the K-8s. Proactively we want to go out and look the future and do what it best for the district."

The bond would be for 12 million, but Stanley says much of that can come from funds already levied on taxpayers now for payments to Minot Public School District. South Prairie has to pay Minot to educate their high school students.

(Wayne Stanley - South Prairie Superintendent) "We are looking over a million dollars a year goes into Minot just from the South Prairie district."

With the addition of high school, those payments would stop. Stanley says about 500 thousand a year would go to staff and support their high school...leaving about a half million each year to pay on the bond.

(Wayne Stanley - South Prairie Superintendent) "It is more of a sound stable thing for our patrons to invest in themselves first."

Voters may or may not see it that way...they voice their opinion on it December 3rd. At South Prairie, Perry Olson, KX News.

Paper work has been filed with the Department of Public Instruction in Bismarck for the approval to add high school, and that decision is expected to go in their favor.

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