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Voters to decide on referendum for addition at school in Buchanan

Approval of the referendum will require a 60% majority.

Pingree_Buchanan Elementary_Rendering_ZBA 10282022.jpg
This is a rendering of the proposed addition at Pingree-Buchanan Elementary School in Buchanan, North Dakota.
Contributed / Zerr Berg Architects
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BUCHANAN, N.D. – Voters in the Pingree-Buchanan Public School District will decide on a proposed $4.5 million bond referendum for an addition and renovation to the elementary school here.

Voting will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, in the prekindergarten room at the elementary school in Buchanan. Eligible voters include any resident of the Pingree-Buchanan Public School District.

“If they own land but they live in Jamestown, then they are not eligible to vote,” said Amber Krapp, superintendent of Pingree-Buchanan Public Schools.

Approval of the referendum will require a 60% majority. If approved, the school district will receive $4.5 million through bonds that will be used for an addition and renovation to the elementary school.

“It’s essentially around 35 mills that the taxes would be raised to receive the $4.5 million,” Krapp said.

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If the referendum is approved, the estimated increase in taxes from 2023 to 2024 will be $157.45 per year for a house with a market value of $100,000, $174.95 per year for a commercial/industrial business with a market value of $100,000 and $1.82 per year for every acre of land worth $1,040, which is based on the average true and full land value in Stutsman County. A tax impact calculator is available on the school district’s website at https://bit.ly/3El8Otn .

The project will add three classrooms for students in prekindergarten, kindergarten and first grade, a media center, music room, secure entrance, a new administration office area, spaces for Title I, special education and counseling services, reworking the pickup and drop-off sites for parents and buses, staff parking and an upgraded student commons area. The project seeks to optimize classroom space and increase safety for students.

“I think it’s a much-needed project,” Krapp said. “We’re currently experiencing some space issues. The existing preK and kindergarten building is 114 years old, so it’s got some issues.”

Approval of the project will be great for students, said Steve Homes, former president of the Pingree-Buchanan Public School Board who just recently resigned from the board.

“I see it as more opportunities for our kids, just a better learning situation and our kids are the future,” he said. “I just think it would be a great asset, a great addition to our district and for our kids just to be able to offer different things, different learning chances.”

There are 99 students enrolled from prekindergarten through sixth grade who all attend the elementary school in Buchanan. Pingree-Buchanan High School in Pingree has 69 students from grades 7-12.

The old school building located to the west of the elementary school that currently houses prekindergarten and kindergarten students and is where music classes are held is more than 114 years old and does not meet building code, safety and accessibility requirements, Krapp said. She said the building has only one bathroom and is not handicap accessible. She said the building has no handicap-accessible fire exits and the fire exits going outside from the classrooms have several wooden steps that might not be the safest.

“Then the security of having kids traveling back and forth between buildings,” she said. “In the winter, the sidewalk can get slippery and we’ve got kids putting winter coats on to travel from one building to the next.”

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While fixing issues with the old school building would solve a lot of issues that the school is facing, the work needed to bring it up to code, safety and accessibility requirements will cost the same as the proposed addition and renovation of the main school building, wrote Zerr Berg Achitects, the school district’s architect for the project, in a news release sent in October.

The media center will house computers and a library. Krapp said the library is currently in a storage area off of the gym.

“It’s a space where teachers could bring some kids in and do some projects or check out a book,” she said.

She said adding a music room to the elementary school will stop students from having to go between buildings. Bathrooms would also be added between the music room and the media center.

The new administration’s office that would be moved to the south side of the building would include three separate rooms for Title I, special education and counseling services. Krapp said special education services are held in a small room off of the furnace room.

“There’s just no privacy there,” she said.

The new administration’s office includes a small conference room, a principal’s office and reception area. The reception area includes a secured entrance like a vestibule where parents would need to get a credential from the receptionist to be allowed into the building.

“It's a little more secure,” Krapp said. “People can’t just walk in and out whenever they please.”

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The pickup and drop-off area for parents would be reworked and located on the south side of the elementary school where the secured entrance would be. On the north side of the school, a new bus loop and staff parking would be added.

“The buses only would come in that (north) door and anyone else would come in the south side where the secure entrance is,” Krapp said.

For more information on the proposed bond referendum, visit https://www.pingree-buchanan.k12.nd.us .

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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