BCN to build: School district plans one building at LealAfter three failed votes and the formation of a building authority the Barnes County North School District is in the final stages of planning its new school building.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
After three failed votes and the formation of a building authority the Barnes County North School District is in the final stages of planning its new school building.
“We’re moving ahead with the centralized school,” said Doug Jacobson, superintendent of the district. “We’re finalizing the details of the building and working through the permits and zoning requirements.”
The district has formed a building authority, with the same board as the Barnes County North School Board, which will take out the bonds and construct the building. The authority then leases the building to the school district and uses the lease payments to pay off the construction bonds.
The new school building will be located on a 40-acre parcel near Leal, N.D., in the center of the school district.
The board adopted this method of financing the school building construction project when a school district bond issue failed at the ballot box three times over a 13-month period.
An election held Sept. 16, 2010, received a 51 percent yes vote. An election held April 19, 2011, received 57 percent yes votes and an election held Oct. 25, 2011, received 56 percent yes votes. The measure needed a 60 percent majority to pass.
Jacobson said the School Board was acting on the wishes of the majority. He also said a larger majority want to see the district operate one facility rather than its current three buildings.
“It came down to the issue of bringing the entire district into a single facility, centrally located, and being able to do that without raising taxes,” Jacobson said. “I feel that about 90 percent of the patrons believe the school should be in one place.”
BCN operates kindergarten through 12th grade at Wimbledon and Rogers and a kindergarten through sixth grade at Spiritwood. The cost of the new centralized school will be paid for by cost savings in operating a single location.
“This means reducing certified staff by about 15 members,” Jacobson said. “But bringing everybody together has been the goal all along.”
The new school has an engineer’s cost estimate of about $14.5 million. Jacobson said the entire cost will be paid with the cost efficiencies of running a single school rather than three.
“We are excited about the fact we can do this without raising taxes,” Jacobson said.
School Board members also recognize the project has been controversial.
“It has been a fairly simple process but it was not a simple conclusion to come to,” said Lori Carlson, School Board president. “There was turmoil before the decision but things have been calmer since.”
Dale VanErem, a School Board member from Spiritwood, said the board has given the project a lot of consideration.
“The board is united in support of the project,” he said. “It is moving along quickly.”
Patrons from the Rogers and Davey area who had previously voiced opposition to the project declined to comment on the issue.
Jacobson said the bid opening for the project could occur in six to eight weeks with groundbreaking slated for around June 1. Construction is anticipated to start this spring with the first classes to be held in the new facility in the fall of 2013.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email