Minot schools set to shuffle some students

Some kids in the Minot Public School District will be attending new schools next year due to anticipated changes in attendance boundary lines.

The Minot Public School Board instructed superintendent Mark Vollmer to begin a study of boundary lines and where attendance could be shifted to better balance enrollment at different schools in the district. Some schools in the district, particularly Washington Elementary, are overcrowded, while there is room at other schools, such as Longfellow and Lewis and Clark Elementaries, both of which added new additions this year.

The changes are being considered following last week’s failed $125 million bond election, which would have paid for new school construction to address increased enrollment.

Vollmer also said there will also likely be larger class sizes in some schools next school year.

Board members said their top priority is to get as many kids as possible out of portable classrooms set up at schools around the district and into permanent buildings. Shifting boundary lines won’t rid the district of all the portables, but it will reduce their number.

“There’s some adjustments that can be made and that’s what we have to do for the benefit of our students,” said board president Jim Rostad.

Board member Brenda Foster said the district has been flexible about allowing parents to enroll children in a school outside their attendance area if necessary, sometimes because that school is closer to the child’s day care. However, next year, Foster said the district may no longer be able to be so flexible.

Vollmer said he will come back with a list of recommended boundary changes at the February school board meeting. He wants the recommendation in place before parents start registering children for next year’s kindergarten class.

Business manager Scott Moum said the school district was granted a $20 million low interest construction loan by the state, at a rate of 1.72 percent for 20 years. Legislators appropriated funds for low interest construction loans during the 2013 session.

However, the loan is contingent upon voters in the district passing a bond issue and the district having some way to pay back the loan. Moum said the district has until May 15 to either accept or reject the loan from the state. Board members did not discuss the possibility of holding another bond election in the spring at Monday’s meeting, but in the past, Vollmer and Rostad have suggested another bond issue as a possibility.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, assistant superintendent Kim Slotsve announced that the district has hired two police officers to be school resource officers. They will start in January. The district will pay 75 percent of their salaries and the city will pay 25 percent of their salaries. Both officers will be on duty at the schools during the school year and will work out of the Minot Police Department during the summer months.