August 15, 2012

School bond issue inches toward ballot

School bond issue inches toward ballot

It’s been nearly two years in coming. And it’s not there yet.
Garrison school board members decided Tuesday night to set a special board meeting for Aug. 28 to make a decision on whether to move ahead with a special election that could come as early as Oct. 9. Although the agenda called for the discussion to take place Tuesday night, board president Melissa Rud and vice president Duane Hummel were both absent.
Superintendent Steve Brannan said if the vote could be before Oct. 10, if passed the district would be receiving tax dollars beginning in January 2013.
Nygard encouraged the board members to put the wheels in motion so the public could be engaged. She said, “We keep putting this off.” However, she said, “Are we going to be able to do a good enough job of selling the project in that time?”
Board members were asked to bring names for a marketing committee to the Aug. 28 meeting and to consider the timing of a bond election.
A bond issue gained momentum in October 2010 when board members began to consider an expansion and remodeling. Six architectural firms were considered in November 2010 before Wayne Whitty of Minot was hired. The firm did the Garrison elementary school addition in 1978.
The project hit a couple of speed bumps: the reality check when the initial cost estimates came in and when the voters were asked to decide whether to eliminate property taxes, the funding source for schools.
In June 2011, the board decided to table plans for an addition or remodeling, mostly because of sticker shock. Although the board was hoping to keep the price below $5 million, the initial cost estimates came in at least $8 million. Nygard, said at the time, “I bet there aren’t people willing to pay for us to do it right … it’s a tough year,” she said, referring to flooded fields following a record-setting winter. She then said, “I think we should postpone it a year. I think it’s a tough time and will be a hard sell.”

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