RICHARDTON -- Richardton and Taylor residents will make a decision in June that could impact the education of almost 200 students in their combined school district for years to come.
A $2 million bond referendum for a new Richardton-Taylor High School facility in Richardton will be put in front of the residents on June 28.
The entire project will cost $12 million, with $10 million financed by the Bank of North Dakota. If the bond referendum passes, construction will begin in spring 2017 with completion by summer 2018.
The Richardton-Taylor school board and school administrators hosted a public forum on March 15 and provided information to the public on the proposed project. There will be another public forum meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the elementary school in Taylor.
Scott Bohn, elementary school principal, said he hopes Taylor residents come out, voice their opinions and listen to the opportunity.
“I’m hoping we get some more people from this community (than in Richardton),”
For the bond to pass in the special election, there needs to be at least a 60 percent yes vote.
The district provided surveys to 61 residents who attended the March public forum. It asked if the school district should pursue the proposed project and if they’d support of the bond referendum. Fifty-five people answered yes.
“That was a positive step forward for us,” said Brent Bautz, superintendent of the Richardton-Taylor school district.
The overwhelming support came despite proposed tax increases, should the bond referendum pass.
According to the district, the estimated tax increase on a residential parcel valued at $160,000 will equal $466, or 65.7 mills. The estimated tax increase for 1 acre of cropland valued at $566 will be $1.81, or 64.73 mills. Non-cropland valued at $131 will have increased taxes of $0.45, or 64.73 mills.
Bautz said residents were able to walk the halls of the 55-year-old school during the public forum and get a close look at the decaying facility.
The building, according to Bismarck architecture firm EAPC, has “significant cracking, twisting, splitting and movement of major structural components.” The firm’s feasibility study said that “failures of this nature greatly reduce the beam’s factor of safety and increase the likelihood of complete failure resulting in collapse.”
Bautz said he walked those who attended the public forum through the school halls, letting them soak in the problems the students and faculty are facing. For example, the school’s flooring has extreme settlement. EAPC’s feasibility study also mentions the roofing is an issue due to wood planking separating from the roof.
Another area of concern is the fire alarm system that Simplex Grinnell, a company that specializes in fire alarms and fire protection systems, recommends the school replace since the system has outlived its lifespan and parts are no longer available. The company believes that if there were a malfunction, it would take a significant amount of time to solve and fix issues that might arise, leaving students and faculty without a reliable alarm system.
The classroom wing of the existing building would be demolished, since it is where the structural issues are occurring and connected to the gym wing, which will remain the same.
Construction management firm Kraus-Anderson would build the school, which would include a new student commons area and kitchen area. If bidding comes in under budget, alternate classrooms could be added during the construction phase, according to EAPC.
The new construction will not only affect Richardton-Taylor High School, but would also eliminate the need for the district to operate three campuses.
The Richardton-Taylor High School building houses students in grades 7-12. The elementary school in Taylor has grades 2-6. Pre-kindergarten through first-grade students are in the St. Mary’s Social Center Building in Richardton, which costs roughly $72,000 annually in lease payments and additional staff -- a cost that would be cut greatly should the bond referendum pass.
Should the referendum pass, grades 5-12 would be at the new Richardton campus and Taylor’s school would house pre-kindergarten through fourth grade.
Bohn said he now travels between both locations throughout the day and believes, should the bond referendum pass, it would make for a more united campus atmosphere in both Richardton and Taylor.
“It would enable us to get us into two campuses instead of three,” Bohn said.