Voters reject BCN school building proposalSupporters of a new centrally located school for the Barnes County North School District gained some ground in the latest election but not enough to move the project forward, according to Doug Jacobson, superintendent of the district.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Supporters of a new centrally located school for the Barnes County North School District gained some ground in the latest election but not enough to move the project forward, according to Doug Jacobson, superintendent of the district.
“I’m encouraged,” he said. “We got about a 57 percent ‘yes’ vote so we gained about 8 percent from the previous election.”
Voters went to the polls on the same issue on Sept. 20, 2010, with the final results split at nearly 50 percent. The measure required 60 percent to pass.
During the April 19 vote, the tally was 501-376. The separate issue to raise the debt limit of the district, which also needed 60 percent to pass, came up with 478 “yes” votes to 392 “no” votes.
“The large gain shows the information got to the people,” Jacobson said. “The reality is most of the people understand the kids need to be under one roof.”
The district operates three facilities now with a kindergarten through high school located in Wimbledon and in Rogers and a kindergarten through sixth grade in Spiritwood.
“We still have the same issues to contend with,” said Lori Carlson, president of the Barnes County North School Board. “We still have kids on the bus a lot, we still have staff on the road, we still have old buildings. Windshield time is never a good use of your people.”
The plan included the construction of a $14.5 million school at the center of the district that would then serve as the only facility for all students. The bond issue would be repaid with cost savings generated by the efficiency of having a single school rather than three facilities.
Some patrons were concerned with the cost of the project.
“I’m glad we defeated it but it was a squeaker,” said Myron Kunze of Rogers. “There has to be a better way. I think the school will cost way more than there $14.5 million.”
For others the issue was the location of a single school, not the concept of a single school, Jacobson said.
The breakdown of the votes showed that patrons in the Wimbledon area supported the new school with a tally of 251-65. Patrons in Spiritwood voted 84-26.
But in the area of the Rogers campus, the vote was 166-285. The ballot count at Rogers also included 73 absentee votes from all around the district. Also, voters from anywhere in the district could vote at any of the three polling places.
“It was a close election,” said Margaret Undem, a Dazey resident and opponent of the new school. “The ‘yes’ people pushed a lot harder than the ‘no’ people so that is what we have to look forward to.”
Carlson agreed the issue may appear again on a future ballot.
“With 57 percent ‘yes’ vote I’m sure we’ll be talking about this again,” she said.
In the meantime the school district operation will continue as usual.
“It’s up to the board on how to proceed,” Jacobson said. “But for the next school year we’ll have the same operational plan.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org