High schools needed

Both Nedrose and South Prairie school districts plan to ask voters to approve bond issues to build new high schools in the coming months.

The $12 million South Prairie bond election is set for Dec. 3, said Superintendent Wayne Stanley, while Nedrose Superintendent Chuck Miller said his district plans an $18 million school bond election in January or February.

At South Prairie, Stanley said district patrons would be unlikely to pay more in taxes if the bond issue is passed.

“It looks to be a wash,” said Stanley. “Our anticipation is with what we’d get back in foundation aid and tuition costs, we would be about the same.”

If Minot passes a $125 million bond issue for new school construction on Dec. 10, South Prairie voters could also expect to pay part of the cost of a new Minot high school, said Stanley, since it would come out of tuition costs Minot charges South Prairie.

South Prairie, a K-8 school located about 10 miles south of Minot on U.S. Highway 83, pays tuition to send its ninth through 12th graders to schools outside the district, to Minot, Max, Sawyer, Surrey and Des Lacs-Burlington.

If voters approve the bond issue, Stanley said construction on the new high school addition, which will be located on the same site as the K-8 school, will begin in the spring. The new high school would open in the fall of 2015. Stanley said the school district would allow kids who will graduate from high school in the classes of 2016 and 2017 to continue attending high schools outside the district, but would require kids beginning with this year’s crop of eighth graders, to attend the new South Prairie High School.

“They will know on December 4 if they’re coming back here as sophomores,” said Stanley.

Stanley said the school board has decided on this move because of ongoing growth in the district. There are two portable classrooms at South Prairie, which had added a school addition back in 2009. Stanley also said that bills have been introduced unsuccessfully in the state Legislature every session to close K-8 school districts or require them to be annexed to a district with a high school. Adding a high school to the South Prairie district would be a way to address those concerns. Stanley said South Prairie has probably had some families move out of the district in the past because it doesn’t currently have a high school.

“Our patrons really want to be responsible for our own educational needs,” he said.

Nedrose patrons have similar sentiments about remaining an independent school district, said Miller.

If passed, the $18 million bond issue at Nedrose would result in a tax increase of $100 per year per $100,000 of property, he said. The owner of a $200,000 home in the district would pay $200 more per year. But Miller said costs would also go up for Nedrose voters if Minot voters pass the $125 million bond issue. Like South Prairie, Nedrose pays tuition for many of its students to attend Minot High. Other Nedrose students choose to go to Surrey.

If approved, the $18 million bond issue in Nedrose would pay for construction of a new middle school and high school on property the district has purchased that is located about one mile from the current Nedrose School, which is located at 6900 Highway 2 East just outside of Minot. Miller said there are about 450 students in preschool through grade 12 who reside in the Nedrose District and there has been continued growth. There were 60 new students in the K-8 school this fall.

If the bond issue passes, Miller said construction on the school would likely begin next spring and the school would open in the fall of 2015. Students from Nedrose who are currently in the eighth and ninth grades would be required to attend school at Nedrose High, said Miller.

Both Stanley and Miller said school boundary lines will likely be confusing for home owners. The South Prairie school district includes businesses such as Walmart, while Nedrose includes businesses such as Minot Milling and Verendrye Electric. People purchasing property should check to see which school district their new home is located in, they said.