The Minot Public School District is relying on voters to decide the fate of a bond referendum for a new school and many other changes. This comes as the administration expects to have more than 1,800 students in middle school by 2024.
A $100-million bond is expected to solve the congestion issue at Minot Public School’s middle and high schools. The project plans to transform the former Cognizant building on the north side of Minot into a new high school. Central Campus would then become a third middle school. The realignment project also includes a plan to improve the quality of education and activities.
Part of the funding would be used to construct a pool and athletic complex.
Superintendent Mark Vollmer said the kids need the space.
“We are servicing our middle school kids right now in 14 portable classrooms at Jim Hill. I want people to know that when we built Ramstad after the floods, we added an additional 150 seats to that building and we’re full up and the numbers dictate we’re going to be more and more overcrowded as time goes on,” Vollmer said.
Trina Arnott lives in south Minot. Arnott has been advocating for a solution that accounts for the kids on that side of town. She said the current project is not holistic enough.
“Another high school is definitely needed by all means just as another middle school. We have Ramstad on the north side of town and this high school will also be on that side of town,” Arnott said.
She explained that’s “going to leave overcrowded and outdated schools on this side of town where Minot hasn’t expected growth of doubling to tripling over the next 10 years.” “So they are going to look for a bond for another high school in the next five years, cause this is just a BandAid,” Arnott said.
Arnott is also worried about the tax implications for property owners especially for those in South Minot who will not directly reap the benefit of increased property prices.
In response, Vollmer said zoning issues can be dealt with after the vote has passed. For example, property owners could be paying up to $25 a month in extra taxes on, a $200,000 home. Vollmer said the district will continue to search for federal and state funds in order to buy down the bond.
So far the district has received 10 million dollars in federal ESSER funding.
“Just a little under $300 a year for a $200,000 home. If you go on our website, plug in the value of your business or the value of your home and see specifically what that will cost you. We will vow that as a school district if we receive additional state or federal funding we will use that to keep that cost down. Our hope is that we don’t have to bond $84.8 million,” Vollmer said.
Currently, Jim Hill students are in portable classrooms and makeshift spaces while Ramstad is at full capacity, according to Vollmer. At the high school level, the district operates a split-campus system that would change if taxpayers vote YES on December 7. By 2024, the 115,000 square foot facility is expected to ease the congestion if the bond is approved.
Residents will be expected to vote on a third question that will legally allow the district to take on more debt.