WILSTON, N.D. (KXNET) — Just one week after neighbors in North Dakota showed up to fill out a ballot, people in Wilton are being asked to come back and do it again.
This time, it’s for an $8.9 million referendum which would expand the town’s elementary and high schools.
“Over the last three years, we’ve added over 45 kids,” Wilton Public Schools Superintendent Andrew Jordan said.
The small town of Wilton said ‘no’ in 2021 to a big-ticket school expansion.
“Location was a big deal for our patrons,” Jordan said.
So, Jordan is trying it again, asking neighbors to back a nearly $9 million expansion.
“We had to increase our debt limit. There was a third question of adding a gym. We’ve since taken that off,” Jordan said.
Jordan says the school is already growing. He’s anticipating a future enrollment in Wilton at 450 kids. The newest referendum would add 10 more classrooms, expand the lunchroom and add to the high school and include an overdue renovation of the science room.
“We do feel like we’re at our tipping point, at our max,” Jordan said.
If neighbors in Wilton say ‘yes’ to the proposal, the funding would cover the cost of much of the school’s expansion. It would also cover tearing down Redwood Village, the former senior home which closed in the last year. The school bought the property with plans to tear it down.
“For $8.9 million, we’re not getting exactly everything we need for the future,” Jordan said.
If voters say ‘yes’ to the plan, it would mean a 20-year payment, tacking on around $200 for every $100,000 in home value, which is around $18 more per month for homeowners.
“The kicker to it is that back in April 2021, the cost of building it was $275 a square foot. Now we’re at $375 a square foot,” Jordan said. “So, those costs aren’t going to get any cheaper for us.”
Jordan says if the plan passes, they hope to go into the bidding process early with the build starting next summer, and would ideally be ready for the 2024 school year.
Jordan says Tuesday’s vote is happening at the school in the family and consumer sciences room.
As of the last census, there are just under 720 people living in Wilton.