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Killdeer school reps. discuss funding options with board

Press Photo by Katherine Lymn With Killdeer Public School students in attendance, Dunn County Commissioners on Wednesday consider a request for funding help for the Cowboy Sports Complex.

MANNING — Killdeer Public School students, fundraisers and officials visited the Dunn County Commission meeting here Monday to check in on their request for funding help for the Cowboy Sports Complex project.

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Commissioners were supportive of the idea but unsure of how to help the school, and much of the discussion was a brainstorming session for other funding ideas.

Killdeer School Superintendent Gary Wilz took a blunter tone than he has previously with commissioners, and said this is more about helping the school with energy impacts overall than it is about this specific project.

Wilz discussed frustrations with how much of the school funding is imputed.

“A direct infusion of money from the county is going to be imputed, that’s the bottom line,” he said, “and that’s just the way things were set up legislatively.”

He empathized with commissioners’ struggle to fund all the needs impacted by oil development, saying it’s a similar balancing act for the school district.

The track and field project has been put on the back burner for years, and now, he said, “we are in a quandary. We need to move this forward.”

After discussions with the school attorney, Wilz said the best option is getting grant money so as to “not have to worry about the imputation side.”

Commissioners understood the imputation issue.

“If the county writes a check, the school only gets 25 percent,” Commissioner Reinhard Hauck said.

Along those lines, an option commissioners seemed to favor was giving the school more grant money for teacher housing to free up other money for the complex.

The school wants to replace the field grass with turf, upgrade lighting, improve the stands and concessions, and more for the nearly $2 million renovation.

Commissioners also brought up using bond money for the complex.

But board member Carolyn Benz said her concern with bonding is “using money we don’t know will be there” in an uncertain future for a school whose student population has been growing fast, stretching existing infrastructure to its limit.

The school’s still $500,000 short of what it needs to get started on construction for phase one of the project.

Students from Killdeer Public School spoke at the meeting about the issues with the field, like tripping on holes, and with the track, which one girl compared to an “obstacle course” because of the rough shape it’s in.

Fundraising committee member Linda Kittilson reminded commissioners how areas where Killdeer teams used to practice have been taken over by oil development.

“So when you look at the youth that we have here, where do we have safe recreation in this county right now?” she asked.

Commissioners need to discuss options further, they said.

But Benz said the school is running out of time to get construction started in order to have the new complex for football next fall.

Tuhy also updated commissioners on how private fundraising is going — the committee has raised $71,000 from donors so far. It has also heard from a Continental Resources representative that the company intends to donate, and that it will talk to other big oil companies about doing the same.

The school board last week discussed committing another $150,000 on top of $500,000 it has already pledged to the project.