Williston voters approve $34 million school bond

WILLISTON Williston voters approved a $34 million school bond issue by a wide margin Tuesday. With all precincts reporting, 2,738 voters, or 76 percent, approved the bond issue and 879, or 24 percent said no. The bond issue required a 60 percent or greater majority to pass. A larger scale bond issue vote failed to pass in December 2012.

This bond issue will pay for construction of a new high school on 34 acres of donated land in northwest Williston. The land was donated by longtime Williston resident Orville Erickson.

The current high school will be used for an expansion of the middle school and would also house the district’s fifth- and sixth-graders. Moving the fifth- and sixth-graders will free up space at the district’s elementary schools, allowing the district to rid itself of 52 modular classrooms.

The total cost of the project will be $56.5 million. Forty percent of the project costs would be covered by a North Dakota Construction Loan, Special Assessment District, Conventional Loan, the school district building fund and private donations.

Taxes will go up about $168 per year for the owner of a $200,000 home in Williston.

Student numbers have grown by 39 percent in the past four years. On the last day of school in May, there were 3,150 students, an increase of 317 students from the last day of school in 2013.

If all goes as planned, the new school will be ready for occupancy by the fall of 2016.

Andrea Johnson