School growth questions

The Minot Public School district made it official on Monday: The district will ask residents to approve a $125 million bond to fund new school construction and security improvements.

The money would be used to build a new elementary school in southeast Minot, buy land and build a second 9-12 high school in north Minot, add classrooms and do renovations at some existing elementary schools, convert Central Campus into a middle school, purchase new security cameras and relocate administrative offices to the front of some schools in Minot. School officials said the vote could be scheduled for Dec. 10.

It’s an ambitious plan, to say the least. But the district is faced with finding space for a growing number of students. Supt. Mark Vollmer said the district will be short more than 350 middle school seats within five years, even if enrollment doesn’t continue to grow. There are 7,348 students enrolled in the district as of Monday. Classes begin Wednesday.

It’s hard to argue with solid numbers. The district definitely has a space issue, and using portable classrooms is a temporary solution, at best, and the district already has too many portables in use. The best and most permanent solution, while not simple, is pretty clear: Build.

But that solution also comes with a hefty price tag, one that would add $456 to the property tax bill of the owner of a $200,000 home in Minot. For some homeowners, that will be unaffordable.

The school district is clearly at a crossroads, and doing nothing simply isn’t a reasonable option. Continued growth means the district must plan for its future, and that future includes more students who need a proper place to spend their classroom hours. We would ask these two questions:

Can residents afford to pay for the growing needs of the district?

Can the district afford not to build more classroom space?