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Rural Williston school district heads back to the drawing board after another failed bond, Where to put the soon-to-be displaced kids of Stony Creek among the most pressing matters

WILLISTON -- Months of keeping the bond referendum for a K-through-8 school on the forefront of residents minds came to a head on Tuesday. And when District 8's second bid in less than a year to pass a bond to build a new school fell short again,...

WILLISTON - Months of keeping the bond referendum for a K-through-8 school on the forefront of residents minds came to a head on Tuesday. And when District 8’s second bid in less than a year to pass a bond to build a new school fell short again, many in the school were left dumbfounded by the results.

By 7 p.m. Tuesday night at Williston Public School District 8 main office, the polls officially closed and the daunting task of tallying the votes began. D8 Account Manager, Tricia Watson, called out “yes” or “no” to those keeping count until the final vote had been tallied.

It initially seemed like the efforts to rally residents to vote in favor of passing the bond had not been in vain - though as the ‘nays’ began to cascade, hopes for a new school for the burdened rural district began to fade quickly.

“It’s frustrating to see we didn’t pass a bond that was desperately needed,” said District 8 board president - and District 8 parent - Deanna Senior. “Everybody was able to have their voice - that’s part of the process, but I know a lot of parents have the feeling of desperation. I know a lot of people feel helpless for their children.”

The previous efforts last year to pass the bond only turned up approximately 250 voters. Months of vigorous campaigning by the ‘YES Committee’ compelled more to the polls, but the ratio of the defeat remained about the same.

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Senior said she had gone door to door in her neighborhood on the Sunday prior to ensure residents were aware the vote was just days away. She became emotional, as did many others, in the district office when it was announced 259 votes were cast against the school to 153 in favor of it.

She understood it is difficult since many parents are working strenuous hours and not all have the opportunity to make it out to vote.

Superintendent Rob Turner had been heading the information meetings and working with the public leading up to the election. He looked both exasperated and frustrated as he felt it would have been much closer than it had.

With the margin as great as it was, Turner said he was unsure if the school board would be interested in pursuing another bond referendum in the future. Failing that option, however, the board is left to make some major decisions.

Brainstorming on the spot, he thought of some measures that can be taken to remedy the impending elimination of Stony Creek Middle School. Though, he said, the board will take this time to do research and come to the table with ideas on where best to place these soon-to-be displaced students.

“We really have a lot of work ahead of us because we don’t have a lot of options,” Senior said. “We have a huge responsibility to put on a Band Aid. We have a lot of really hard questions to answer.”

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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