On December 7, voters in the Minot Public School District will make a critical decision for the future of our students and our community. Our job as a district is to present the facts and educate the community on the proposed realignment project.
The last successful bond for building a new high school was passed in 1969 and the Magic City Campus opened in 1973. We held a big bond referendum in December 2013 that would have included a second high school, and that has not reached the 60% threshold required to pass a compulsory schooling. We received 50% of the votes in 2013 and the community at the time told us to face the most immediate need, that of our primary schools. We had 23 portable classrooms outside of our elementary schools at the time, so we came back in April 2014 and passed the elementary school bond, leaving middle and high schools to process in the future. We threw the box on the road and now we are at the end of that road.
Minot Public Schools are currently managing overcrowding at our two colleges with 14 portable classrooms outside Jim Hill Middle School and Erik Ramstad Middle School, which was built in 2014 with a capacity to accommodate of 150 students, is at full capacity. With the current number of enrollments, next year we estimate an additional 100 students in our colleges, which may require additional temporary mobile classrooms in Jim Hill and Ramstad. By 2024, we expect to have around 200 more college students than the current number of college students.
There are also challenges in high school, as our high school students in the current setup are moving from Grades 9-10 at Central Campus and Grades 11-12 at Magic City Campus. We are one of the few districts in the country that has a divided high school campus. This unique division of the campus creates problems for many students, who are making the transition to a new school, with new administrators, counselors and teachers, at a time when they have reached the compulsory school attendance age and are able to ‘drop out of school. With over 2,000 students currently enrolled, Minot High School is also the largest high school in the state, limiting academic and extracurricular opportunities for students.
What we have is a good head start. In 2020, the district was offered the Cognizant building in northern Minot for $ 10, offering millions in savings for a second high school. This year alone, we received $ 10 million in ESSER funds to fund the realignment project, which is due to be spent by 2024. The opening of the new school and transition to the realignment project is expected to take place at fall 2024. We are committed to moving the project forward as quickly as possible to reduce overcrowding in colleges and get students out of makeshift portable classrooms.
The proposed solution includes the creation of two full high schools for grades 9 to 12 – a high school on the Magic City campus and a new high school in the Cognizant building, and the conversion of the central campus into a third college. This eliminates the transition for students between the current layout of the 9-10 and 11-12-year-old divided campuses. It also creates academic opportunities for all high school students, provides more class choices with updated facilities, builds stronger relationships with principals, counselors, educators and students, and creates more extracurricular opportunities. for all high school students in fine arts, student government, athletics and more. Converting the central campus to a third college addresses overcrowding and the need for portable makeshift classrooms, improves the safety and security of middle school students, and reduces downtown parking congestion with fewer student drivers.
Throughout this process, we spent a lot of time collecting feedback at team meetings that started in May, four stakeholder workshops with over 200 participants aged 14-93 that took place. in July, steering committee meetings throughout August and ongoing focus group meetings. this autumn. We have worked hard to educate the community on the challenges and solutions with three community open houses in Cognizant and over 90 presentations given in the community to service clubs, organizations, businesses, coffee groups, associations and more. Now it’s up to the voters.
There are three questions on the ballot:
QUESTION 1: $ 84.8 million for two comprehensive high schools and a third college
The project involves the construction, remodeling and repurposing of the old Cognizant building, a 115,000 square foot facility, including the development of green fields for physical education and a grass competition field. The project also includes upgrades and renovations to the Magic City Campus to make it a complete secondary building from nine to twelve, including science classrooms, vocational and technical education space, and an additional gymnasium, as well as improvements to the central campus from its current nine and tenth years. setup at a full college in grades six to eight.
QUESTION 2: $ 24.2 million for a swimming pool and a sports complex
Addition of a 50-meter competition pool and a sports complex with all the amenities of the stadium on the grass field on the property of the North High School.
QUESTION 3: Increase the district debt ceiling
This question allows the district to sell the bonds necessary to complete the work of questions 1 and 2. Question 3 does not give the district additional taxing authority. Simply put, this question allows the District to increase our debt limit from 5% of the District’s assessed value (as stated in the North Dakota Century Code) to 10%.
A side note:
We have been made aware of several resolutions of support from user groups but also from these organizations: Downtown Minot Business & Professional Association, Minot Area Chamber EDC, Visit Minot, Bakken API Chapter, Magic City Aquatics, Minot Association of Builders, Minot Family YMCA, Minot Realtors Association, Minot Swim Club, Minot Infrastructure Committee