Williston's District 8 bond vote to be held May 14

WILLISTON, N.D. - Parents of District 8 students say their schools are having the same issues with overcrowding that District One schools are experiencing. The unique situation will be put to voters for a bond vote on May 14.

The proposal would allow two new 600-student elementary schools, and a 600-student high school to be built for $89 million. It would cost residents around $207 a year per 100,000 true and full valued property.

Board members say although the problems are similar to District 1, the tax evaluation is unique, because more than 76 percent of the bond will be paid for by oil companies, like Oasis Petroleum and Sun Well Services, because of the large amount of land they own in District 8.

Monica Webber Parent and Yes Committee Member says, "residential is 15 percent of our 89 million, which I think is amazing. We've had financial advisors tell us that they have not seen many bonds that have that opportunity, so that's exciting for us."

Parents are saying their children are having conversations about the uncertainties surrounding the future of their education, and they're concerned about the mental strain it puts on them.

"They are at an age, where they should not be concerned. They should not have to think about those kinds of things. That saddens me that they're worried about this, and that as adults we are so passionate and wondering what's going to happen, what are we going to do, that it's being brought onto those kids, and that's not fair to them, and I don’t want them to have to worry. I want to know that we have a place for them to go," states Dawn Hollingsworth a parent and Yes Committee Chair.

People who oppose the bond say they don't want higher property taxes, and argue that the state should pay for schools. Legislators have taken the position that building funding for schools is a local issue and not a state issue. The current legislative session is likely to end this weekend, and lawmakers will not meet for another two years. Yes voters say it would also help alleviate the pressure District One schools are seeing.

"We would have open enrollment, so anyone in Williams County could come into our schools once they're built. I think that says a lot too,” explains Webber.

Members of the Yes Committee say they are using most of the same procedures District 1 did to get information out to the public, but they are doing some things differently. Buffalo Wild Wings is putting a District 8 voting brochure in every takeout order, they have flyers in places like Safari Trampoline, and they are hosting barbecues where people can get their questions answered.

Committee members say if they get the word out that a high percentage of the taxes will be paid for by oilfield companies, hopefully their bond vote will pass. The school's next town hall meeting is Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Missouri Ridge School cafeteria.