School district holds retreat

The Minot Public Schools will have more students enrolled when school starts later this month than it did when classes let out in May.

Superintendent Mark Vollmer said so far there are 7,300 students enrolled in grades K-12 as of Wednesday afternoon. There were 7,154 enrolled on the last day of school in May.

“We anticipate this number will grow in the next few weeks,” said Vollmer, since there are many appointments scheduled to enroll students in the coming weeks. All parents must enroll their children at the district office.

“As of right now, we will have 20 classes in portable classrooms this year,” said Vollmer. “That is the most we have ever had. In the grand scheme of things, we have to be very cognizant of that fact that as our enrollment goes up we will be looking at more students in portable classrooms.”

School board members held a board retreat Tuesday night to discuss future planning for the district, including whether to build new schools to help meet the need in the district as well as the possibility of asking voters to approve a bond issue to pay for school construction.

Vollmer said board members feel they need more information about demographics and the potential costs of building options.

“The board wants more information before they talk about a bond issue,” said Vollmer.

Several potential options were discussed during public forums held last spring.

The first, and most expensive, proposal would cost an estimated and combined $145.5 million. It would pay for construction of two new K-5 elementary schools, both with the capacity for 600 students; converting Minot High School-Central Campus into a fourth middle school; building a second high school and renovating Magic City Campus; and having two 9-12 high schools, both with the capacity for 1,400 students. At the forum in May, the consultant estimated that this would cost the owner of a $200,000 home in the district an additional $535 in property taxes each year for 20 years and would raise the mill levy by 59.64 mills.

The second option would cost an estimated $125.5 million. Again, it would call for construction of two new elementary schools and converting Central Campus into a fourth middle school and having two new 9-12 high schools and construction of a new high school, but it would leave out renovating Magic City Campus to accommodate more students. It would raise the tax bill for the owner of a $200,000 home by an estimated $462 per year and raise the mill levy by 51.5 mills.

The third option would cost an estimated $42 million. It would involve just building two new elementary schools and making no changes at the middle school or high school levels. It would raise the tax bill for the owner of a $200,000 home by an estimated $155 per year and raise the mill levy by 17.28 mills.

The fourth option would cost an estimated $33 million. It would involve construction of one new elementary school, utilizing portable classrooms at the current elementaries, and building additions as needed at existing elementaries. Nothing would be done to the middle school or high schools. It would raise the tax bill for the owner of a $200,000 home by an estimated $122 per year and increase the mill levy by 13.6 mills.

The fifth option would simply address “deferred maintenance” at existing schools, without building any new schools or additions or doing anything to address the growth in the district. It would cost a combined $63.5 million. It would cost the owner of a $200,000 home an additional $235 per year in taxes and would raise the mill levy by 26.2 mills.

The last option presented was to do nothing.

Vollmer said Wednesday that the board wants any plan they decide on to be extremely well thought out. They will probably hold another board retreat in August to discuss the issues.