Williston School Districts met with Governor Doug Burgum to try and solve overcrowding issues

Local News

With school starting up soon, school districts in Williams County are still trying to solve overcrowding issues.

Monday afternoon, school officials, and other city and county officials met with the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the State’s Superintendent.

Two school districts in Williams County have been unsuccessful at convincing voters to support tax increases to fund new buildings.

With over 4,500 students in a district that can only support 3,900 things are definitely overcrowded.

“District one is a much larger issue, we’re really small, only 16-square miles and educate almost 70-percent of students in the county,” said Joanna Baltes, president of Williston Public School District One Board.

“And then we’re landlocked by large land-size district but small on the student size,” Baltes added.

The population of Williams County grew after the oil boom. And the school districts grew right along with it.

There are over 30 students in each classroom—and the districts are working with the buildings they have to try and reduce the class sizes.

“We’re actually converting an old pool building into innovation academy that will hopefully house about 400 students get that online next year. Need at least another 1200 seats in district-including expansion in high school almost immediately,” Baltes said.

The County commission offered to fund the study to find out the issues in the County.

It will focus on addressing mental health issues, safety, and joint tax districts within the schools.

“School presidents and superintendents will continue to meet and county will continue to fund some data collecting so we’re looking at the evidence instead of emotion,” said Codi Austreim, executive director of Williston Coyote Foundation.

“And how do we take that data and make good decisions,” Austreim added.

Whichever decisions are made–officials say they will be sure to take into account three specific groups of people.

“We’re going to urge to keep taxpayers in mind, keep teachers in mind, keeps the kids in mind,” said Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford.

Both districts say that providing the best possible education for students is their main goal.

They say working together is going to be how the districts will be able to solve the overcrowding issue and come up with a plan that’s right for voters this time around.

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