Buildings, teachers, and more discussed during roundtable with Williston School Superintendent

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 1:52 PM CDT
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WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) - The public had a chance to discuss ongoing issues concerning the Williston Basin School District with their Superintendent. Michael Anthony reports.

In the first of many planned informal Q&A sessions, just 10 people attended to hear from superintendent Dr. Richard Faidley on how things are going for the district. Those that showed up say they feel optimistic with him at the helm.

“Thank you for believing in our community and coming here because we’ve been the laughing stock of North Dakota right now. We can’t seem to get along here and it’s time for us to get along and make this work as a school district,” said Deb Kemp, Williston.

Faidley explained one of the biggest challenges the district faces moving ahead: explaining the need to bond for two new schools while closing two rural ones. He said it would be cost-effective to build new elementary schools rather than maintaining the old ones that have been there for nearly 70 years. While Garden Valley could stay open during reconfiguration, he told those in attendance that numbers paint a bad picture for Round Prairie, which is why it could close as early as next year.

“We can’t get people to go out there to fill those classrooms. We’ve been trying. People don’t want to travel that distance,” said Faidley.

Teacher shortages are not just a Williston problem, but people have taken notice of a significant number of resignations over the past few years. Faidley said he has worked to be open and transparent with them.

“[For example,] We had to make some leadership changes very quickly at Bakken and McVay [Elementaries], so there was some concern with teachers at the Bakken as to why those decisions were made. I personally went and met with them,” said Faidley.

Other questions asked included federal and state funding amounts, as well as possible improvements to the school’s sports programs.

More Q&A sessions are scheduled on Saturday, October 29 at 11am, and Sunday, November 20 at 1 pm.