August 13, 2015

Schools get surprise grant

By Jerry W. Kram

The New Town School Board got a surprise at its regular meeting Tuesday, and it was one of the good kind of surprises.

School Superintendent Mark Bluestone informed the board that the district was the recipient of a $950,000 grant from the North Dakota Land Board, the agency that is responsible for, among other things, distributing impact grants to communities affected by oil and gas development. Bluestone said that the district did not apply for this grant. This round of grants was distributed to all school districts in the oil patch based on enrollment and oil production in the district.

"We’ve been careful not to apply for the oil impact grants for the past few years," Bluestone said. "We have enough U.S. Flood money that we don’t need the additional funding. Plus, when we go to the legislature, some of the legislators would be asking why we got those grants when we have $8 million in oil money."

Bluestone said the money was designated for building projects and building maintenance. He said he will likely use the funding to pay for work on the new vocational center now under construction. That will allow the district to use some of the money it had set aside for the vocational center for new teacher housing that will be built north of Dakota Drive next year.

Bluestone also informed the board that there have been some complications in the planning for the school’s 10 acre development north of Dakota Drive. While construction on the new bus barns is going as planned, the district may have problems getting water to the apartments it was planning to build.

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