Williston: School Bond Plan Details - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Williston: School Bond Plan Details

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Enrollment in Williston is up nearly 400 students since this time last year.

Williston School District currently has 3,049 K-12 students, a number that has gone up consistently for at least five years.

A school bond vote failed in 2012 but as Jennifer Kleen tells us, the need for expanding with the population, continues.

The plan for new schools in Williston missed the grade in 2012.

It's been half a century since a school bond vote has passed in Williston, and the failed attempt for $55 million two years ago had less than 30 percent support.

(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent Williston School District) "If we continue the way we are, we could have high 40 percent of our population in modular classrooms and I know that's not what the community wants."

So district officials are back to the marker board with a red pen.

(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent Williston School District) "What we should build or could build and pros and cons behind each. No matter what we do, we need more space."

Increased space, starts with land.

32.5 acres west of Williston have been donated to the district.

Now the question officials are asking the public, "What should we build?"

(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent Williston School District) "We could add on to one of our elementary schools. I think, if it doesn't happen now, it's something that will happen in the future."

The most recently built elementary school, Hagan is serving 400 students with the help of ten modulars purchased by the district.

Across town, McVay Elementary was recommissioned in 2012.

Originally built for 250-300 students, it's now serving 400 as well in leased modulars.

Dr. LaFontaine says the 'con' of building an elementary is that it may not be the best use of land if grades can be reassigned.

(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent Williston School District) "A middle school. That's what we brought to the public last time. Let's build a 5-8 middle school and take our elementary students out of the elementary buildings and put them in the 5-8 school."

The middle school is less than ten years old, built with sales tax dollars for declining enrollment.

Dr. LaFontaine says replacing it was not recieved well in 2012.

(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent Williston School District) "Another idea would be to build a high school. Then you could expand the 5-8 middle school into the current high school. Again, for the growing population that's happening."

Dr. LaFontaine says the district has done the homework.

Now, before going to a school bond vote again, they are looking to the community for the grade.

In Williston, Jennifer Kleen, KX News.

The 2nd of three public input forums regarding the expansion plan is scheduled for April 16th from five to seven at the Williston High School commons area.

Dr. LaFontaine says financial information about a new school bond is not yet clear.

However, she says the district is pursuing more state loans and property values in the district have increased, so the total price tag will be lower than the $55 million the district asked for in 2012.

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