Dickinson Public Schools will use a variety of funding methods to bring to fruition its plan to convert the Halliburton complex to a career and technical education facility.
The purchase price for the 40-acre property is $6 million, and the preliminary estimate for renovations to convert the complex's buildings from industrial to educational use is $8 million for a total estimated cost of $14 million.
The school district does not plan to raise taxes or pass a bond to pay for the project. The district will use $6 million from its $10 million building fund to purchase the property - part of the money it had set aside to help offset the cost of a new school.
For the renovation costs, it has a few ideas.
State Sen. Rich Wardner and State Rep. Mike Lefor, who are both members of the district's CTE Academy Taskforce, were present at the meeting in which the school board voted to purchase the property. They addressed the board about the benefits of purchasing the complex for the school district and the community as well as possible funding mechanisms for its purchase and renovation.
Wardner explained a gap bonding bill that the state legislature is creating in which earnings from the Legacy Fund would service the bond. It is an infrastructure bill, and Wardner said CTE is part of it.
“We think it’s a good shot that we’re going to pass this bill," he told the school board prior to their vote to purchase the complex. "We have $60 million in that for CTE, and here’s the way I think it would be structured: an organization can get up to $15 million with a 1:1 match."
Wardner said he thinks the school board could get this match for the Halliburton complex.
"We have to go in and make our case, and I think we have an excellent case," he said.
In the bill, $45 million is set aside for the 1:1 matching grant. The remaining $15 million would be set aside for existing career and tech facilities in the state for equipment.
Lefor was also positive about the district's chances.
“I feel extraordinarily positive about this and the case that we can make to the Legislature," he said.
Lefor also said he and Wardner will be speaking to other governmental entities in the region for financial support.
“To us, this was never a DPS thing only. This was a community/region effort, and that means that part of what we’re trying to do is obtain funding not only from the state but also from our political subdivisions," he said. "We have talked informally with city commissioners, Stark County commissioners; we’re making a presentation to the Dunn County Commission on Nov. 4. We’re trying to get in the door with Billings County as well. Our goal is to talk to these people and get investment from them as well. I will tell you that the initial feedback that we’re getting has been enormously positive; they know this is a big deal.”
Lefor mentioned private fundraising as well.
"We have ... expert fundraisers. We have experts in virtually every aspect of this entire project ... There are private sector businesses that are anxious to see welding, diesel mechanics, things like that which these buildings are perfectly suited for," he said.
"We're here also to reassure the board that we're in this 100%. We intend to do everything that we can to make this a success for this region," Lefor said.