Just because a Realtor says a new house is in Minot doesn't mean it's in the Minot school district, said Ward County Superintendent of Schools Jodi Johnson.
Rapid growth in Minot and the surrounding area and confusing school boundary lines can make it hard for prospective home buyers to tell just where their kids might go to school if they buy a new house, she said.
"You could move into (the Woodside Addition) right now and your neighbors next door could be going to Minot and you could be going to Nedrose," said Johnson.
Southeast Minot is the area where Minot Public Schools hope to eventually build a new elementary school if the $125 million bond issue passes on Dec. 10.
Housing is going up rapidly in the area of 37th Avenue Southeast and 13th Street Southeast. This is an area where homeowners may find that a neighbor across the street is in a different school district than they are.
In some new developments, it's commonplace for neighbors to be in different school districts, in part because many plots have already been annexed from one school district to another.
Under state law, Johnson said, property owners can petition to annex their land to another school district but there are conditions that must be met. Their property line must touch that of a property that has already been annexed into the desired school district.
"You can't ever make an island of a school district," said Johnson, so there can't be a single property in one school district that is surrounded on all sides by properties in another school district.
Often, when annexation requests are made, requests are submitted by a block of neighbors in a single area. For instance, Johnson said some 80 lots from the Woodside Addition east of 13th Street Southeast and north of 37th Avenue Southeast, have been annexed from the Nedrose School District into the Minot School District. That still leaves some properties in the neighborhood in the Nedrose school district. In some cases, those properties are right across the street from those in the Minot school district.
The same situation has arisen in other areas where there is new development, such as the Heidrich Addition south of 36th Avenue Northeast and east of 13th Street Northeast, parts of which are in the Nedrose school district and parts in the Minot school district.
Northwest of the U.S. 2 and 52 Bypass, there is a new development where parts are in the Minot school district and parts in the Des Lacs-Burlington School District.
"Some of them can see the new Ramstad (the new middle school under construction in northwest Minot) from their house," said Johnson, even though their homes are technically inside the Des Lacs-Burlington school district.
Johnson, who has fielded calls from homeowners hoping to find out just where their homes are located, said she advises people to look at the property tax statement for the house.
Some home buyers may assume the home is in the Minot school district if they are paying Minot city taxes and taxes for Minot fire and electrical services and sewer and water, but the home could still be in Nedrose or South Prairie school districts. The tax statement will have the true school district the home is located within.
Johnson said homeowners in another district can attempt to annex their property to Minot, provided adjoining neighbors agree or their property line touches a property that has already been annexed to the Minot school district. Those living in Minot can also open enroll their children into neighboring schools such as Nedrose or South Prairie, though Minot no longer accepts open enrollments of children living outside of the school district.
Johnson said some families who have contacted her office may live in one area but prefer to send their children to school in another for a variety of reasons. Some work in Minot and want to drop their kids off at a Minot school on their way to work or be able to pick kids up from school activities on their way home; others want their kids to attend school in the same area where an after school daycare is located.
The question of school attendance may become more urgent in coming months. South Prairie and Nedrose, both K-8 schools that have paid tuition to send high school students in their districts to Minot or surrounding towns, have plans to build their own high schools. Both districts will ask voters to approve bond issues in the coming months that would pay for new high school construction.
"I'm hoping the public can get educated," said Johnson.
Blake Krabseth, a broker at Watne Realty, also said prospective home buyers should do their research about what school district a home is in before they purchase the home. He coaches Realtors at Watne to do this and thinks most other real estate companies in town look up the school district when they sell a home. But he said there may be a handful of agents, among the many in Minot, who don't make that effort.