Watford City planning school bond issue

WATFORD CITY Watford City is also planning a school bond issue for later this spring.

Superintendent Steve Holen said the school board is scheduled to discuss plans for the bond issue when it meets Monday and will likely decide on an amount for the bond issue and a date for the election. If it is approved, the election would likely be held in mid-March.

Holen said such a bond issue would pay for construction of a new high school addition. The district just completed an $11.5 million addition at the elementary school. That addition did not require a bond vote. Holen said this would be the first bond election vote held in Watford City in 30 years.

Watford City, like other towns in the oil producing counties, has seen substantial growth during the past few years. Holen said enrollment at the school is now at 1,070 students in grades K-12, up from 860 last year. Student numbers have doubled in recent years, and projected growth shows K-12 enrollment reaching 1,600 kids by the 2016-2017 school year.

“That number might be a little on the light side,” said Holen, who said growth has so far outpaced a demographics study. This year the number of students has been higher than the study had projected. Increased student numbers mean that the the buildings are nearing capacity, said Holen. Even with the addition, the elementary is close to full. The greatest need is currently at the high school.

Holen said the district has had to make adaptations in certain policies because of the new students.

“Twenty to 25 percent of our students are in transitional housing, RVs and campers,” said Holen, so teachers must rethink assigning homework to students who don’t have a kitchen table to do their work outside school hours. The district also has a program that provides winter coats to kids who arrive in Watford City from southern states with a warmer climate. New housing is under construction, but housing availability remains something of a problem in the community.

Holen said there are also many positives that come with the growth of Watford City and all of the new people in town. He said he is looking forward to unveiling the proposed plan for the district and moving forward with growth.