Voters have the chance to do something historic when they go to the polls on Tuesday, May 14, to weigh in on a plan to build new schools in Williams County Public School District No. 8 — they can say yes.
Since 1950, when the district was formed, voters have never approved a bond to build new schools. That's led to now, where while the district has been able to build one new, modern school, most of its students attend classes in buildings that were designed to hold far fewer students and have been expanded with the use of modular classrooms.
At Garden Valley, where there are more than 300 students, students have to go outside to get to the lunchroom and the library, because they're housed in different buildings.
District officials worked hard to use the building fund to pay for the construction of Missouri Ridge, but they cannot repeat that enough times to build all of the new schools that are needed.
And make no mistake, new schools are needed, and badly so. Between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, enrollment increased 35 percent. Add that to the fact that enrollment in Williston Public School District No. 1 has also spiked, making just about every school in District 1 overcrowded, as well.
As the vast majority of the districts high schoolers — about 200 in all — attend Williston High School, that has made the opportunity for the district to have its own high school that much more appealing.
District 8 is already the second-largest district in Williams County, even without counting the 250 or so high school students who attend other districts. In fact, there would be more high-school age students in a District 8 high school than the total number of students in Grenora Public School District No. 99 and nearly as many as the total number of students enrolled in Eight Mile Public School District No. 6 in Trenton.
Simply put, it makes good sense for District 8 to have its own high school. It would help ease overcrowding in other districts countywide, as well.
And given the fast enrollment growth District 8 has seen — the second fastest by percentage behind only McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 — new elementary schools make sense, as well.
We hope voters will see that and will approve the plan on Tuesday.