Tuesday is election day for people living in District 8 in Williams County.
That’s the district that basically surrounds Williston.
And it’s been growing fast in recent years.
As Jim Olson reports, administrators are hoping voters will approve a nearly-90-million dollar plan to create new space, and transform the district.
(Jim Olson, KX News) “To get an idea of the overcrowding problem in District 8 you don’t have to go far from Williston. Just a few miles north, Garden Valley School is really just a conglomeration of really just one permanent building and several temporary buildings.”
(Dr. Robert Smith, Garden Valley Principal) “In and out, in and out of the cold.”
The students at Garden Valley navigate a series of outdoor walkways to travel among several portable buildings. And once they get to class?
(Dr. Robert Smith, Garden Valley Principal) “This is a good example of our space needs. This is a third-grade classroom and as you can see we’re packed.”
The tiny rooms are filled with students. The principal says that’s a concern – but it’s not the only worry.
(Dr. Robert Smith, Garden Valley Principal) “Our concern, one of the greatest, is safety for the kids. The portables are basically trailers. They’d go up quick in a fire. And in a tornado, they don’t last very long.”
(Rob Turner, District 8 Superintendent) “That campus needs to be replaced.”
Superintendent Rob Turner says it the Tuesday vote is successful, Garden Valley will go away. In its place?
(Rob Turner, District 8 Superintendent) “Two, 600-student elementary schools, and a 600-student high school.”
That would mean District 8, up to now a graded elementary with kindergarten through 8th grade, would become a full K-12 school district.
(Rob Turner, District 8 Superintendent) “It really was because of a grassroots push to do the kind of project we’re looking at now.”
Turner says months of meetings with district residents brought this vote. He says he’s seen an amazing amount of support for the idea.
(Rob Turner, District 8 Superintendent) “I would say frankly it’s been 95% positive and 5% concerned.”
Homeowners would see a tax hike of just over 200 dollars per 100-thousand dollars of home value if the measures on the ballot receive the 60% support required to pass.
In Williams County, Jim Olson, KX News.
There are two items on the ballot tomorrow in District 8 – the 89-million dollar bond and permission to increase the district’s debt limit.
Polls are open from 9am to 8pm at the District 8 office at 111 7th Avenue West, and at Mountrail-Williams Electric’s main office at 218 58th Street West.