Overcrowding in Williams County schools

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WILLIAMS COUNTY, N.D. - Williams County School District 8 and Williston Public School District 1 now have even less options when it comes to dealing with overcrowding schools, since District 8 voters turned down the three-school construction proposal Tuesday.

District 8 and District 1 residents are wondering if it is now inevitable that the two districts will merge. District 8 has a board meeting on Monday to discuss potential options, but there is a board election soon that could add two new members in a few weeks, so they are apprehensive to come up with plans without the new members' input.

District 8 Superintendent Rob Turner discussed with us that they could potentially create a modified version of May 14’s bond proposal, or merge districts, but board members don't think that would go over well with their constituents.

"When people say they want the districts to merge, the first thing you have to ask is what district are you in? The reason is because if you're a District 8 resident, you're taxes are going to go up significantly. If you're a District 1 resident, your taxes are going to go down," Turner explained.

Turner said it's estimated District 8 residents' property taxes would increase by more than 60 percent, and schools would still be overcrowded if districts merged, so he doesn't think his district would benefit at all.

As far as students are concerned, District 1 is still letting District 8 high school students enroll next year. Century code says if a district doesn't have a high school, they need to be let into a surrounding district's school.

“There's another stipulation within century code that says if the school is overcrowded, they don't have to take students, and can close enrollment. So there's two different, the question is which one overrides the other if it comes to this situation?” added Turner.

He says for now, his students are still able to attend Williston High School, but might have to find one farther away if nothing is done in the near future. And District 8 residents are avoiding higher taxes by turning down the bond, but could end up paying even more if districts have to merge because it was not passed.