WILLISTON, N.D. - UPDATE: Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford issued a joint statement Wednesday after the bond vote failed. Williston district 1 and Williams County 8 came to Bismarck in April to discuss how the two could work together.
As requested, below is a joint statement from Gov. Burgum and Lt. Gov. Sanford regarding the school situation in Williston:
“Citizens in Williston School District 1 and Williams County School District 8 face a uniquely challenging situation with rapid enrollment growth. District 1 is a landlocked district that encompasses only 16 square miles and has limited property tax base to support new facilities, but by law it must accept high school students from the much larger District 8, which covers more than 1,100 square miles but has no high school. As stated when we hosted a joint meeting with the two school boards at the Capitol in April, we believe the opportunity exists for additional collaboration between the districts to address their challenges, including joint master planning. We encourage the boards to pursue future collaboration on potential facilities and combined bond issuance.
“While we believe strongly in local control, we also need to keep working to solve this issue for the entire state, as the tools for school district collaboration were designed with shrinking populations in mind and now some districts are struggling to manage rapid growth. The state provided some additional tools during the recently concluded legislative session, with additional funding for school construction loans and progress toward on-time funding in the second half of the 2019-21 biennium. But these changes don’t go far enough, and we will continue to fight for faster implementation of on-time funding to ensure that districts with growing enrollment are funded for their new students in the current year rather than the following year. We’ll also fight for innovative borrowing solutions that don’t require such a strain on individual property tax payers. Ensuring we have the school facilities and resources necessary to accommodate growth is critical to providing a quality education for students, attracting and retaining residents to address our workforce needs, and minimizing tax impacts on property owners.”
ORIGINAL STORY: Unofficial results show voters rejected the $89 million bond referendum for Williams County Public School District 8.
District officials tell us the unofficial tally shows there were a total of 562 votes, and for the bond question 46 percent were yes and 54 percent were no votes.
The bond would have allowed for the construction of two elementary schools, a high school, and repairs to existing buildings.