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A lunch in downtown Williston on Friday, Sept. 6, is going to benefit plans to renovate schools in Williston Public School District No. 1.

The free-will donation lunch is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Hedderich lot at the intersection of Main and Second streets. Oil company Equinor is sponsoring the event, and also plans to match all contributions received Friday up to a total of $10,000.

That money is going to go to the district, which, along with the Williston Coyote Foundation and the Moving Forward Matters Committee is fundraising for an Innovation Academy.

The plan is to convert the old Hagan pool building into a four-grade Innovation Academy to provide more opportunities and space for students.

The academy, which started last year with fifth grade, will grow over the next several years to include fifth through eighth grades and serve about 400 students. It will reduce class sizes at both Bakken Elementary and Williston Middle school and serve as an example of personalized learning that can be applied districtwide.

Another part of the project is converting a space formerly used by Williston High School as an auto shop and career and technical education space to 7,000 usable square feet for Williston Middle School. That which will include five core classrooms, two elective rooms and a robotics lab.

The lunch is part of an ongoing effort by school board members and others to find more space to deal with massive enrollment increases. Two efforts in 2019 to pass a bond to build new schools failed, with both getting more than 50 percent of the vote but less than the 60 percent required to pass.

The district plans to pay for the Innovation Academy and other renovations by multiple methods, including fundraising, using part of the district’s building fund and a grant from Williams County. The total project will cost $12 million, and the fundraising goal is $5 million.

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