Forum gives Minot schools low grades

The school buildings in the Minot Public School District are sorely in need of updating, attendees at a community forum held Thursday night at Minot High School-Magic City Campus were told.

A consulting group hired to conduct a study of the district’s building and educational needs gave low grades to the district’s buildings, most of which were built prior to the early 1970s. The low grades were largely based on infrastructure such as poor heating, air and ventilation, fire codes and space per student.

Bel Air Elementary rated a D; Bell Elementary an F; Dakota Elementary a D; Edison Elementary a C; McKinley Elementary an F; North Plains Elementary a D; Perkett Elementary a D; Roosevelt Elementary an F; Sunnyside Elementary a D; Minot High School-Central Campus a D; Memorial Middle School a C-; Jim Hill Middle School a C+ and Souris River Campus a D. Schools that have had more recent renovation done got higher grades. The new Washington Elementary, a rehabilitated building that was once a medical clinic, rates an A. Lewis and Clark and Longfellow Elementaries, both of which have additions under construction, also got higher marks: Longfellow an A, and Lewis and Clark a B+. Magic City Campus, the newest of the district’s buildings and built in the early 1970s, received a B+.

Superintendent Mark Vollmer said the school buildings are clean and safe and are up to code, but are also showing their age. The district has taken steps to address needs as they come up, such as installing new roofs on all of the schools in the last decade, he said. Still, Minot is the only school district in northwest North Dakota that does not have a building fund to pay for ongoing maintenance.

This was the second of three planned public forums to give the public a chance to give input about the state of the district. The school board plans to ask voters to approve a bond issue referendum in the fall to pay for new school construction to address the growth in the district.

Vollmer said the last of the forums is tentatively scheduled for late May. The consulting firm is doing a study of the district’s demographics to determine which areas have seen the most growth in young families. Vollmer said some of the growth in the area is in surrounding districts, including Nedrose, and may not affect Minot directly.