GARRISON Voters in Garrison will be asked to approve a $9 million school bond issue on Nov. 13.
School superintendent Steve Brannan said, if it is approved, the bond issue would pay for construction of three to four additonal classrooms at the elementary school, new bathrooms, a new hallway and access to the gymnasium and improvements to the heating and electrical system and additional space for special education.
Improvements at the high school would include an expanded agriculture classroom, a multipurpose room, a renovated library and technology room.
School property taxes would go up $200 per year for the owner of a $75,000 home in Garrison; $160 per year for the owner of a quarter of land in the Garrison school district; and $300 per year for the owner of a $100,000 commercial property in the school district.
Brannan said the school improvements have been under discussion for about two years and nine public information forums have been held where members of the public could ask questions and offer input. School board members have made an effort to keep the proposed project as reasonable in cost as possible and only as large as is needed, said Brannan. The school district, like others in northwest North Dakota, is growing and classroom space is crowded.
"We're just so crammed right now with space for our special education students," said Brannan. One special education classroom is decided into fifths to offer different services. Last year some special education teachers shared a room with a small group band. Teachers requested that they not share the room with the band this year.
High school students are bused three blocks to the elementary school to eat lunch. That cuts into instructional time and also interferes with elementary physical education classes, said Brannan.
Brannan said the vocational education program is one of the school's top programs but the available classroom is so small that not all the kids can weld at the same time.
There are currently 369 students enrolled in grades K-12 and 43 children enrolled in the school district's preschool program. "We have a lot of young families," said Brannan.
The school district has grown by 40 students in the past two years. Several of the students moved to Garrison following the 2011 flood in Minot and other families moved to the area because of the oil boom, among other reasons. Brannan expects the district to continue to grow by 5 to 10 students each year.
If the bond issue is approved, ground could be broken next spring for the project, which would likely take about 15 months to complete.