Willliston Voters To Vote Again On School Construction Plan

For the third time in 13 months, voters in Williston will be asked to support borrowing millions of dollars to deal with a school space shortage.
The bond issue will be on a special April ballot.
Jim Olson reports on why administrators keep asking for permission to add space.

For Williston Public School District One Superintendent Dr. Jeff Thake, the third time should be the charm.

(Dr. Jeff Thake, Williston Superintendent) “We improved from our original bond in March by 18.7 percentage points.”

In March of last year, voters said ‘no’ to a plan to build two elementary schools and expand the nearly-new high school. Only about 40% of voters supported the 77-million dollar proposal. Then, in January of this year, a majority of voters said yes to a smaller, 60-million dollar plan that again included two elementary schools and a high school expansion. 58% said ‘yes,’ but that was short of the 60% needed to pass. 

(Dr. Jeff Thake, Williston Superintendent) “That’s good news because a majority of our voters favor building the new schools and recognize the overcrowding we’ve got in our district.”

Now, the same proposal is back in front of voters on April 9th. For Dr. Thake, it’s just a question of numbers.

(Dr. Jeff Thake, Williston Superintendent) “We’re graduating 236 seniors this year and we’re projecting to bring in close to 500 kindergartners.”
(Laura Benz, Wilkinson Elementary Principal) “It is getting pretty full. Last year we had 30 in each kindergarten.”

Wilkinson Elementary Principal Laura Benz says the full classrooms hurt the education process.

(Laura Benz, Wilkinson Elementary Principal) “It’s hard to get individualized and get to each one of them and give them the best education to show growth because you’re just dealing with more numbers of kids.”
“Tootsie Roll, lollipop, we’ve been talking now let’s stop!”

Benz says flexible seating has helped classrooms seem less congested, but there are still too many children vying for one teacher’s attention.

(Laura Benz, Wilkinson Elementary Principal) “Is it conducive to have 30 kids in a classroom? No.”
(Dr. Jeff Thake, Williston Superintendent) “Second-fastest growing school district in the state and the sixth-largest school district in the state. We need to have these buildings in order to accommodate and alleviate some of the growing pains we’re feeling from our rapid growth.”

If the bond proposal fails on April 9th, the district will be unable to put the question to voters again for at least one year.
In Williston, Jim Olson, KX News.

Williston District One is not the only school system proposing a major bond issue in the immediate Williston area.
Tomorrow, Jim will tell us about Williams County District Eight’s plans for a major expansion.
 

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