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DPS moves forward with middle school plans

The Dickinson Public School Board is moving forward with plans to build a new middle school after approving a bond referendum to finance construction last month.

Though final costs won’t be determined until the referendum vote on Oct. 7, the board is working to galvanize community support for the estimated $65 million project.

“There are a lot of things in motion for providing to the public the facts on what this issue means,” Assistant Superintendent Vince Reep said.

At the special meeting on April 28, board members voted in favor of a bond referendum to fund the new school, though as Reep told the board, final costs could come in under the board and construction consulting group DLR’s $65 million estimate.

If construction costs come in at $55 million, he said, “then we would only sell bonds for up to $55 million. There would be no need to sell more than that.

“So, as we move forward in the election process, all of us will make sure that the public knows that we are asking for $65 million.”

Board President Kris Fehr said the board will “ask for what the school district needs, and nothing more.”

The bond referendum will not include the recently approved $2.5 million project to expand Prairie Rose Elementary School to make room for 150 new students, which Reep said is expected to go to bid as early as July and begin at the end of August.

The bond vote will be the board’s first since 1997.

Reep said members of the community have already been meeting to provide support for “a successful bond election.”

The decision to build a middle school rather than a high school came after lengthy and sometimes difficult discussion.

Superintendent Doug Sullivan began holding meetings with teachers Monday morning to discuss the bond referendum and the board’s ultimate decision to move ahead with a middle school rather than a high school. He said there might be community meetings in the future leading up to the vote.

In other news

Dickinson School District could be extending bus routes for the coming school year, Superintendent Doug Sullivan explained in a note sent to parents Monday asking for their participation in an online survey to gauge public interest.

The district’s growing student population is putting a strain on existing bus routes and drop-off traffic.

“We receive a number of comments every year about traffic congestion around the schools,” Sullivan said, especially around adjacent Hagen and Berg.

The three-question shuttle bus survey can be found on the school district website and on individual school websites.

Sullivan said he hopes parents will participate so the district can get an accurate assessment of the need for shuttle services.

“We’ll just have to wait and see what the level of interest in before we know exactly how the services will be designed,” he said.