Williston Mayor Howard Klug was skeptical of the last plan to build new schools in the city, but said Monday evening he fully supports the plan that will be up for a vote Jan. 8.
“This plan takes into account needs of community,” Klug said Monday during a public meeting to go over the particulars of the proposed bond issue for Williston Public School District No. 1.
The plan calls for building two new elementary schools, each with a capacity of 600 students, as well as an addition to Williston High School and updates to all of the district’s elementary schools. On Jan. 8, voters will weigh in on a $60 million bond, as well as raising the district’s building fund levy from 10 mills to 20 mills.
A previous proposal that would have replaced two existing schools and cost about $76 million was voted down in March.
One of the reasons Klug said he was happier with the current proposal was it added more seats and it matched school locations with places where the community is growing most quickly.
The board has offered locations for the new schools, with one to be located on 11th Street West near Sportsman’s Warehouse and the other to be located on University Avenue, near what will be 45th Street East once the road is completed.
“I think this will really help the city grow,” Klug said.
David Tuan, Williston city administrator, said the plans for school locations made a lot of sense, because they integrate with infrastructure that already exists.
“Both of these areas are within private development plans that have been presented (to the city),” Tuan said of the proposed locations.
Building new schools could end up stimulating some development in those areas.
Darin Kreuger, executive director of the Williston Parks and Recreation District, said he also supports the plan. One of the biggest needs for the WPRD is for more green space throughout the city, and the preliminary plans from District 1 would help address that.
“This takes us to another level,” he said of the proposed locations.
Monday’s meeting was the latest in a series of sessions designed to educate the public in advance of the Jan. 8 election.
The board has emphasized the differences between the current plan and the one rejected by 60 percent of voters in March. That plan would have added some seats, but would have taken two existing schools offline. The current plan keeps all current schools open and nearly doubles the number of seats at the elementary level.
School board President Joanna Baltes said the plans are quite different, and that the current board members looked at what voters didn’t like about the last plan and tried to address those problems.
One big advantage of the current plan is that it builds entirely new schools in new locations.
“These are two brand new facilities in two parts of town that we’re not currently serving,” Baltes said.
The final public meeting about the proposal is set for 6 p.m. on Jan. 3 at Williston High School.