School board sets date for bond issue election

The Minot Public School Board has set Dec. 10 as the date for an upcoming $125 million bond issue election.

The board is asking voters to approve the bond issue, which would pay for construction of a new elementary school on land the district already owns in southeast Minot; the purchase of land and construction of a second 9-12 high school somewhere in north Minot; classroom additions and renovations at various existing elementaries; conversion of Minot High School-Central Campus into a fourth middle school for the district; and purchase of new security cameras and relocation of administrative offices to the front of various schools in Minot. If approved, the bond issue would raise the mill levy 51 mills. The owner of a $200,000 home in Minot could expect to pay an additional $456 per year.

School officials say the bond issue is necessary to address continued growth in the district.

During the special election Dec. 10, voters would also be asked whether they want to increase the district’s debt limit by 5 percent on the assessed value of taxable property of the school district beyond the 5 percent limit that is set by the state constitution. According to district business manager Scott Moum, the assessed valuation of all taxable property in the school district has been assessed at $2,042,537,150 for the year 2013. The school district’s total bonded indebtedness, all of which was issued for school buildings, is $18,226,280.

The taxable valuation of property in the district is estimated at $193,397,341 for 2013, up from $151,663,327 in 2012, according to Moum. The total mills levied in 2012 were 141.02; the total mills that will be levied in 2013 are an estimated 81.76, thanks to changes during the last legislative session that were geared towards property tax relief as well as to the increase in property valuations, which meant the district doesn’t need to levy as many mills to raise needed funds.

During a school board meeting Thursday, Supt. Mark Vollmer said enrollment has continued to increase in the school district. There are currently nearly 7,400 students enrolled in the district, up from 7, 152 students at the end of May. There are well over 700 students enrolled in kindergarten. Even without further growth, Vollmer said the district will be short about 500 seats at the middle school level when this year’s group of kindergarteners through third-graders reach middle school.

Enrollment reports also showed the ethnicity of students in the district. According to the breakdown, there are 6,065 white students, 445 black students, 136 Asian students, 350 Hispanic students, 341 American Indian students, 42 Pacific Islander students, and 17 students who were classified as “other” in preschool through grade 12.

Vollmer said the district took its last portable classroom out of storage and installed it at Sunnyside Elementary, which now has three portable classrooms set up outside. There are 23 portables in use at schools around the district: three at Bel Air Elementary; two at Perkett Elementary; two at Edison Elementary; three at Sunnyside; nine at Washington Elementary and four at Jim Hill Middle School.

The board also approved the balanced $86.25 million 2013-2014 budget on second reading. Moum said he will present a revised budget for the board’s consideration at the October board meeting.