New lower bond referendum set for vote in Dickinson in September

DICKSINSON, N.D. - It’s round two for Dickinson voters next month.

A $115 million proposal for a new high school was voted down in May, after only 43 percent of voters said yes to the project. But after community feedback, and some changes to the proposal, district administrators are confident they have a plan in place that will fix issues at the 52-year-old building.

With close to 1,100 students expected to fill the halls and classrooms at Dickinson High School this fall, a number close to, if not over capacity, plans are once again moving forward for a new building.

“We're using 5 percent as our very conservative estimation for growth and at 1,000 kids, that's 50 kids every year, so you can imagine by the time we open that school in three more years, we'll have an additional possibly 150-200 kids in our high school,” Dickinson Superintendent Shon Hocker said.

After a $115 million bond, which included funds for a new elementary school failed in May, Hocker says they've made two changes: phasing in a career and technical center with corporate sponsorships for some of that cost and having one line item for just the high school.

“We felt like at the time it would be better financially to bring both referendum request together in a package don't go back and ask patrons the next year or two years or whatever because that's when I think you can build a bad reputation at times,” Hocker said.

The new bond will be about $15 more per month on a $100,000 home, according to Hocker. All the residents we spoke to on Thursday say they're in favor of the project.

“The new high school is something that has to be built in this town. The future of our students is the future of the United States and we will vote for the new referendum,” said Allen Ollila, Dickinson resident.

Hocker says if the bond doesn't pass this fall, they will have to start putting maintenance funds, earmarked for this project, into the HVAC system, roof and other infrastructure issues at the high school. If the bond does pass, Hocker says construction would start sometime next spring, with an opening date set for fall 2022.

Six public hearings were held before the vote in May, none are scheduled for the current bond. The vote is set for September 10. There will be only two places to vote in September, at the Dunn County courthouse or Dickinson High School. There were six polling sites last May.