August 5, 2014

Schools get $3.8 million

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

School districts in Watford City and Alexander, which are being impacted by increased enrollment due to the energy boom in western North Dakota, will be sharing in $3,809,700 in grants from the Board of University and School Lands (Land Board). The Land Board last week awarded  over $10 million to North Dakota K-12 schools impacted by the rapid growth of oil and gas development in the state.
McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 received $3,809,700, which was the largest grant allocation. Three million dollars of the grant award was for roadways and utilities infrastructure improvements for the new high school, as well as $803,662 for additional teacher housing.
The Alexander Public School District received $331,800 for building renovations and $272,000 for teacher housing.
The priority of the latest grant awards by the Land Department was  for safety and security needs, teacher housing, temporary portable classrooms to address increased student enrollment and other projects needed in preparation for the upcoming school year.
“K-12 schools impacted by oil and gas development in the state are experiencing significant increases in student enrollment, expanding the need for teacher housing, portable classrooms and other renovations and enhancements to accommodate rapid growth,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple, chairman of the state Land Board. “These grants will help our schools address the impacts of increased enrollments and prepare for the upcoming school year.”
To date, including last week’s grants, the Land Board has awarded nearly $196 million in state Energy Impact Grant funds and will award a total of $240 million in grants during the 2013-2015 biennium. The grants are used to address a wide range of needs, including enhancements for airports, law enforcement agencies and emergency services; upgrades to county, township and city infrastructure and support for growing schools.
In all, the state will invest about $2.6 billion to support the state’s oil and gas region during the current biennium. The state commitment – more than twice the amount of the previous, two-year funding package of about $1.2 billion – includes funding for highway, county and township road improvements; water supply and water treatment projects and the development of affordable housing. Other state commitments include stationing more Highway Patrol troopers in western North Dakota; enhancements to the region’s court system and funding for dust suppression projects.