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Mott-Regent bond measure voted down: District residents say 'no' to new school

Press Photo by Mike Hricik Mott-Regent Public School Board members express disappointment in the failure of their school district’s bond referendum on Tuesday in Mott.

MOTT — In a highly anticipated vote, the Mott-Regent school district’s $14.5 million bond referendum has failed, according to preliminary results.

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The bond would have allowed for the construction of both elementary and high schools in Mott, but a majority of voters said “no.”

“We’ll try again next time,” board member Lucas Graff said.

For the referendum and debt increase to pass, a 60 percent majority of voters had to cast their ballots in favor, but almost two thirds of the voters voted against it.

To the first measure on the ballot, which would have authorized the district to secure the bond, 401 Mott voters said “no,” while 259 casted a “yes” vote, according to the school board.

To the second measure, which would have allowed district debt to increase from 5 to 10 percent, 411 Mott voters said “no,” while 241 said “yes.”

In Regent, preliminary figures for both measures were 169 against and 29 in favor. A total vote count from Regent was not available at press time.

The board can schedule another vote in six months, which would inevitably grant concessions to those who protested the bond.

Board chairman Bill Gion stressed that the votes will not be made official until a board meeting next Tuesday. Board members received 116 absentee ballots, which isn’t enough votes to sway the results.

Mott-Regent Superintendent Myron Schweitzer said he was “disappointed” in the vote, but offered no further comment.

The district also previously evaluated remodeling the existing elementary, old high school and new high school buildings, as well as creating an addition and remodeling the existing structures, or doing nothing.

Some landowners in the school district enlisted the North Dakota Watchdog Network, a taxpayers’ watchdog group, to discourage a referendum from passing. The network wielded a budget of up to $25,000 for marketing, which included radio spots, TV ads and fliers distributed through the mail and a website,

Taxes would have increased by 77 mills for residential, agricultural and commercial property owners. For a home with full value of $50,000, the homeowner would have paid $173.25 annually. For an agricultural or commercial property with full value of $100,000, the owner would have paid $385.

The network’s efforts seem to have worked, for now.

At a meeting on Tuesday night, board members also raised wages based on years worked for ancillary employees, which include janitors, teacher’s aides, secretaries and others.

The board will meet again at 7 p.m. next Tuesday to discuss administration contract terms and Common Core curriculum standards.