It could cost Minot taxpayers some $34.2 million to pay for land purchase for a new high school, construction of a new elementary school on 10 acres in southeast Minot the school district already owns, and an addition at Edison Elementary.
School board members held a retreat Thursday evening to discuss the district's needs, and the need for a bond referendum, possibly next spring, was at the top of Supt. Mark Vollmer's list.
"We believe it is time for decisive action," Vollmer told the board.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • Gary Reddick, president of V3 Studio in Portland, Ore., presents an architectural model that shows what downtown Minot might look like with proposed development.
John Huenink, vice president for education for Kraus Anderson, told the board that a tentative cost estimate would put the price for building a new elementary right now at about $20.1 million, building an addition at Edison Elementary could cost $9.5 million and purchasing 40 acres of land in north Minot for the high school could cost another $3 million. Anticipated inflation over the next 18 months could boost the price further.
Vollmer said the district has already passed the point at which it could ask to hold a bond issue in November. The earliest possible date for a bond referendum could be February or March.
Vollmer said the anticipated growth of the district is behind the talk of a new addition. There were 733 kindergarteners enrolled on the first day of school Wednesday, compared with 649 kindergarteners when school let out in May. Enrollment on the first day of school in the Minot Public Schools was 7,133, up from 6,853 students enrolled on the first day of school in the fall of 2011,
The district is making use of portable classrooms at schools where it has never been necessary before. Perkett Elementary now has a portable classroom, as does Sunnyside Elementary, where a classroom addition was just built last year. Washington Elementary, which had five empty classrooms when it was opened a few years ago, now has nine classrooms outside the main building and every classroom inside the building is in use.
"We are still registering kids today and I am sure we will still be registering them up until Labor Day," said Vollmer.
If growth continues, a second high school will be needed within the next decade. Vollmer said it would be wiser to purchase land now that would suit the district's needs rather than to wait and make do with something less than ideal and more expensive in a few more years. Land is being snatched up quickly and there is no land to speak of available in the area near the U.S. 83 Bypass, said Vollmer. He said available land for a high school might be found in north Minot, perhaps closer to Eureka Township. That is also an area of new population growth.
The school district purchased land a few years ago in southeast Minot with plans to eventually build a new elementary school there. An addition at Edison Elementary would also address growth in south Minot.
Board members also discussed the need for maps that make it clear where the school boundary lines are, since people who are purchasing homes in Nedrose or South Prairie school districts may think they are actually located within the Minot school district. Several Nedrose residents have sought to annex their property to the Minot school district. Vollmer said he has attended several hearings of the state annexation board in Bismarck.
Business manager Scott Moum said the boundary lines are confusing. For instance, if the district builds the new elementary on the acreage it purchased in southeast Minot, someone who builds a house directly across the street might be located within the Nedrose school district.
Board members ended open enrollment into the school district a couple of years ago due to increasing enrollment and do not seem inclined to reconsider that decision.
No decisions could be made at the retreat, but board members will likely discuss the issues raised at a future board meeting.