For many years, Williston Public School District 1 and Williams County Public School District 8 have discussed merging as one for numerous reasons.
Now with the opportunity presenting itself to reorganize, KX News shares what having one school district could look like.
Abbie Axtman is a Williston District 1 resident who’s been following talks about her district and District 8 merging for the past few months.
“The biggest thing with District 1 and District 8, especially today, they both service the same students. They both service the Williston Community students,” Axtman said.
But servicing the same students has caused issues such as overcrowding, which has only led to more problems.
Annette Sluder says she’s seen how the districts operate, especially after Williston High was built.
“When District 1 built their new high school years ago, District 8 taxpayers didn’t contribute anything to that building, yet Williston High School continued to admit District 8 students,” Sluder said.
Reaching a breaking point amongst District 1 taxpayers, a harsh decision for the upcoming school year pertaining to District 8 students was made.
“So, they decided to close enrollment next year unless reorganization happens,” Sluder said.
A plan has been made to move the reorganization along.
It will include staffing, transportation, changes to the district board as well as other items on their agenda.
“I think anything we can do that will make it better for our students and our community to work together in collaboration is going to be a huge benefit for the entire community of Williston,” Williston Public School District 1 Superintendent Jeff Thake said.
Despite having a plan in place, it all comes down to the voters.
“As a D8 resident, I believe that reorganization really hinges on us,” Sluder said.
Sluder, like many others, already have their reasonings together as to whether they’ll vote one way or the other.
“The reorganization itself, I’m not against. It’s this plan and the things that have taken place raise a lot of questions and concerns for myself and everybody else,” Williston resident Dawn Hollingsworth said.
“For me, I have two small children not in the school system yet and I would like to see them go to a school that is close to our home. Right now if my son was going to kindergarten, next year he would be bussed around town, and I think it’s about 17 miles to Garden Valley school and that just doesn’t make any sense,” Sluder said.
If majority votes aren’t in favor of the reorganization plan, then District 8 would have to regroup.
“At that point, we have to make a decision on what we’re going to do for our high school students and what’s going to be allowed in the future and how we’re going to move forward,” Williams County School District 8 Superintendent David Goetz said.
The vote is set for Dec. 8, but early voting is open now.
If a majority is in favor of the reorganization plan, the effective date of the new district would be July 1, 2021.