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Minot Public Schools sets Dec. 7 bond issue vote

School bond issue election to be held Dec. 7

Andrea Johnson/MDN Dusty Wald and his wife, Jill Wald, presented the recommendation of a steering committee to the Minot school board on Thursday. The recommendation, which the board adopted, is to ask voters to fund a bond issue that will pay for a second 9-12 high school, renovate Magic City Campus into a 9-12 high school and turn Central Campus into a third in-town middle school.

Voters will be asked on Dec. 7 to approve a bond issue that would fund a 9-12 high school at the site of the former Cognizant building in northwest Minot, turn Magic City Campus from an 11-12 high school campus into a 9-12 high school and turn Central Campus from a 9-10 high school campus into a third in-town middle school for grades 6-8.

The election will be held in one polling site, at the Minot Municipal Auditorium. A 60% or greater majority approval will be required to pass the bond issue.

The Minot Public School Board unanimously approved a motion to hold the special election.

The ballot will have three separate questions. The first question will ask voters to approve $84.8 million for the main project. The second question would ask voters, if they approve the first question, whether they also want to approve an additional $24.2 million to pay for construction of a 50-meter competition swimming pool, new turf and an athletic complex at the school. The third question will ask voters to approve raising the debt ceiling to allow the district’s debt to be at 10% of its assessed property value. Currently, the ceiling is at 5% of its assessed value.

“We may never get another chance as good as this,” board president Jim Rostad told the board.

The 115,000-square-foot Cognizant property was donated to the school district last year for the nominal fee of $10 and should save the district about $14 million on the project, according to the school district. The district has also received $10 million in federal COVID-19 relief dollars from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund that was distributed by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. That funding can be applied to the proposed building projects to address overcrowding at the middle school and high school levels.

Voters had approved a bond issue in 2014 that paid for construction of the new John Hoeven Elementary and additions at Perkett and Edison Elementaries, but board members warned at the time that anticipated overcrowding at the middle and high school levels would likely require asking voters to approve another bond issue in time. Superintendent Mark Vollmer told the board that Central Campus alone has nearly 1,100 students in grades 9-10 this year. Jim Hill Middle School is over capacity and is surrounded by portable classrooms.

Board members noted that Minot is one of only three school districts in the country that has its high school split across two campuses. They said having two high schools would be good for students, in part because it would enable them to develop ongoing relationships with their teachers and counselors in the building for four years instead of two.

Focus groups were held throughout the summer and a steering committee was appointed that presented a final recommendation to the board on Thursday.

If voters approve the bond issue, the best case scenario would have students in the new and renovated schools by the fall of 2023.

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