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North Dakota schools rich in oil money

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North Dakota schools rich in oil money
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

BISMARCK (AP) -- Oil development has made millionaires of some North Dakota schools, but they're running out of time to spend their riches.

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State law says that if a school's carry-over as of June 30 tops 45 percent of its general fund, the extra money will be deducted from the following year's state aid.

Killdeer's school got a $1.4 million check last month. Superintendent Gary Wilz said he needs more than 90 days to figure out what to do with it.

"I could sit there and do nothing, but that would be stupid," Wilz said. "This is more money than I know what to do with."

The New Town Public School got a $6 million check. Superintendent Marc Bluestone said his board needs two years to make good spending plans.

The money comes from lease sales on federal land in Dunn and Mountrail counties.

Parshall state Rep. Kenton Onstad said legislators understand the schools' situation and he believes something can be worked out.

"I think it will work out. It's not without precedent," Onstad said.

The state is allowed 75 percent of the revenue from land around the Garrison Dam that was taken by the federal government for flood control. The money goes to counties, which gives half to schools.

The Twin Buttes school got $23,000, Mandaree got $33,000, Tioga $850,000, and Parshall $1,900.

Wilz said he hopes to use the money for such things as training for teachers, more musical instruments and improvements to the outdoor track and bus fleet. Killdeer has about 375 students.

Bluestone said the New Town school, with about 685 students, has six priority building projects, ranging from expanding a cafeteria and adding an elementary gym, to more electric outlets in classrooms.

"If we get at least two years, so we can spend it best for kids, this is an excellent problem," Bluestone said.

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