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Votes coming in for school bond issue

Posted 2/18/14 (Tue)

By Stephanie Norman
Farmer Staff Writer

In less than three weeks, the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1, will hold a vote on a  $27 million bond issue to construct a new high school in the Fox Hills subdivision east of Watford City.
All voters must have a current North Dakota Driver’s License to present at the voting site or they cannot cast a ballot.
Individuals can get a North Dakota Driver’s License at the Watford City City Hall on Thursday, Feb. 20, from 9:30 a.m. to noon or from 1 to 3:30 p.m. There will be an extra person on hand helping Thursday to allow applications through in a timely manner. March 6 is also reserved at city hall to apply for a license during the same hours.
“We’ve already had 40-50 votes submitted,” Superintendent Steve Holen said. “It has been a steady stream of voters. We welcome people to vote from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the school district office up to the voting day.”
Absentee ballots are available through the district office or on the school’s web site.
The actual voting day will be held from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Tuesday, March 11, at the Watford City Elementary School Gym. There are 2,000 ballots ready to go for election day, according to Holen.
“I am all for this new high school and the bond,” Yes Committee member Bambi Shelley said. “There is no doubt in my mind that it will pass with flying colors.”
Shelley has three children attending the elementary school and one at the high school. Her family moved to Watford and made it home. The whole family is very involved with the community and they spend a lot of their time at the school.
“The bond is important because the community here likes to be involved in what the kids are doing,” Shelley said. “When I attend my kids events at the school I see multi-generations. It’s a whole family thing.”
Like she expressed, if the community is going to continue its growth, more children will be attending the school system here, but there is a set capacity - not only for classrooms, but for attending events as well. The school district will need more room to spread out by next year.
“It’s not just the school that is at capacity or outgrown its building,” Shelley said. “The whole town has outgrown its buildings. Everything around here has gone through expansions and growth. Look at the hospital, the golf course, Cash Wise, the courthouse and city hall. Why would we see growth in those areas and not at the school?”
Shelley promoted the Yes Committee’s campaign at the latest school PTO meeting. She said she did a question and answer session with the parents and received positive responses with no resistance.
“At the PTO meeting, I didn’t have to go too far into detail because they were already excited about it,” Shelley said. “I am encouraging people to get their North Dakota Driver’s License so they can vote.”
A third public forum on the new school building project has been scheduled for Feb. 26, in the Media Center at the high school. It will be three consecutive one-hour presentations at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m.
According to Holen, JLG Architects will be using a direct instruction approach to show the community the final building plans for the new high school.
On Feb. 13, JLG Architects spent the day talking with teachers and staff at the high school to collect details on what each of them would like to see within the classrooms of the new school.
A special meeting was held Thursday night where JLG and the school board went over details collected throughout the day.
“We came in with the current design and met with 10 different groups of faculty and staff,” JLG Architect Ted Rozeboom said. “All of the groups we met with endorsed where we are going with this state-of-the-art building. There are no significant changes; just a few minor adjustments.”
With bleacher seating on all four sides of the main basketball court, the gymnasium will have a 1,600-person capacity, versus the 1,200 seating in the original plan, according to Rozeboom. He believes that’s right about where the school needs to be as far as seating for events in the gym.
Physical Education is an important part of the high school curriculum. According to the school board, the school will need a double gym to accommodate those needs for PE classes.
“It was originally going to be a triple station gym,” Holen said. “But we downsized to two stations.”
The total square footage for the school building is slated to be 163,000 square feet.
“If we don’t hit our target mark on adequate square footage now, then it will be more sensitive to change later,” Rozeboom said.
Holen confirmed that the total project cost of $50 million includes the building itself, as well as the track and football field.