April 4, 2012

School charges forward on expansion plans

By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer

For the last several months the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 has been looking at and revising plans for expanding the current school buildings with the possibility of additional buildings.
The district is bursting at the seams with several hundred students pouring into the district over the last couple of years. Finding space to accomodate all their academic and extracurricular needs has been a challenge.
Different building scenarious all culminate with the accommodation of 1,200 students and could cost as much as $42 million. Options include building a new high school with the current high school becoming a middle school or building a combined high school and middle school and transitioning part of the elementary into the current high school. Both include renovations to the current elementary school.
Regardless of what expansion option the district chooses, gym and cafeteria space is a dire need and will require considerable expansions.
“No matter what happens, we really need to have more lunch space and gym space in the elementary school,” stated Sherry Lervick, elementary school principal. “We can’t get by with the existing gym.”
The school board’s March 22 meeting focused on more revisions of the expansion plans for the elementary school. The newest plans include the addition of four classrooms, two music rooms, a gym and a library. The current gym will become the cafeteria and the administration section of the building will also be expanded.
Should the school board approve these additions to the elementary school, they could be using some of the new classrooms by the spring of 2013. But otherwise, the school board hopes to have the expansion plans completed by August 2013.
“Something like this always starts with lots of ideas that you have to consider,” says Steve Holen, District No. 1 superintendent. “The board is zeroing in on what it wants to do and will work it through until we’re comfortable with where we’re at.”
That comfort, according to Holen, has nearly been reached. Though the school board’s decision has not yet been made, final plans should come to a vote at next month’s meeting.
Prior to the April school board meeting, the school district will host a public information session on April 12, to unveil its full plan to the community and more specifically, to students and their parents.
“We are getting excited about laying our plans out for the public,” says Holen. “We look forward to hearing what they think about it.”
The public information session will be held at 7 p.m. in the Watford City High School Media Center on April 12. All interested community members are welcome to attend.