Like many schools in western North Dakota whose needs have outpaced their capacity, Killdeer Public School's K-12 facility has been bursting at the seams with students in recent years. Thanks to voters, it will now join the growing list of districts constructing new schools to teach them all.
The bond referendum for a $38 million junior and high school took place May 19 and was canvassed by the school board on May 26. Just 590 voters turned in a ballot. Of those, 366 voted in favor of the new school; 224 voted no. The referendum passed with a majority just over 62%.
The district is anticipating that just 20.5% of the total cost will be passed onto taxpayers. An $8.5 million grant from Dunn County and $6.5 million in oil tax proceeds will pay for another 39.5% of it. The remaining 40%, $15.2 million, the district expects to come from industrial, pipelines, utilities and other out-of-state entities.
To pay for the school, taxpayers in the district will be charged an additional millage of 34.33 mills, equal to $34.33 on every $1,000 of taxable valuation for the first taxable year. The increase would bring the total school mills to 92.94, which is just below the state average recorded in 2018-2019 of 100.71.
Killdeer, now a K-12 school, will split into two separate facilities — the current facility, which will hold pre-K through 6th grade students, and the new facility, which will hold students in grades 7-12.
The new facility will be built on a 40-acre parcel of land west of the water tower extending High Street approximately 1/4 mile.
Construction on the 105,000 square foot building is scheduled to begin in spring 2021. The school, which will have a capacity of 350-400 students, is expected to be ready for use by the 2023-2024 school year.
The district plans for the new building to have space for vocational education to support class offerings in agriculture, woodwork and welding. A competition gym with seating for 1,200 people is also planned. (The current facility's gym seats just 700.)
Killdeer's enrollment has been expanding for years due to the oil boom. In the 2009-2010 school year, the K-12 school had just 373 students; this school year, that number swelled to 625.
Enrollment at the Killdeer K-12 school has increased so rapidly that it outpaced initial projections provided by RSP. Its projection for the 2018-2019 school year was 510; actual enrollment was 575. In the 2019-2020 year, the difference was even greater, with projections estimating 543 students and 625 actually enrolled.
The district has made plan after plan to deal with growth, considering renting space downtown for administration offices and space in the mall for classes, teaching classes in the church across the street and in the school's library, converting computer labs and other spaces into classrooms, dividing classes into sections and hiring more teachers.