Helmut Schmidt, Published March 16 2011
West Fargo School District officials hit with questions on bond issueWest Fargo School District officials were peppered with questions about the finances of a possible bond issue for up to four new schools during the last of six informational meetings Tuesday.
More than 70 district residents turned out at Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center with questions on property taxes, whether the district could pay to operate the schools, and if there would be money to pay for school construction further down the line.
“Numbers. That’s a big deal with taxpayers. It’s all about trust,” said West Fargo resident Brian Hagen, who homed in on lower property tax figures for this bond issue.
He said he got an answer this time around that made sense. (A longer payment schedule makes for a lighter hit on taxpayers.)
“I think the key is to get all the facts on the table … so voters can make decisions on accurate numbers,” he said.
School Board President Karen Nitzkorski said the results of the information meetings have been remarkably similar.
“I think we have clear data that will guide us. But the devil is in the details,” she said.
The board takes on that devil Friday. They must decide:
- How many schools will there be on the bond referendum ballot, “and the price tag. There will be some discussion on the price tag,” Nitzkorski said.
The cost could range between a low of about $62 million to a high of $83.5 million, according to material at the meeting.
- How the bond question will be phrased, and whether voters will see the request divided into more than one question.
- When the referendum would be held. A mid-May date has been suggested.
Two previous bond votes failed in West Fargo.
Participants at Tuesday’s meeting voted on several issues:
- Sixty-nine percent strongly agreed, and 29 percent agreed that they were confident in enrollment projections.
- Ninety-one percent would support building two elementary schools.
- Eighty-three percent back building a 1,200-student middle school.
- Eighty-three percent would expand Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center into a 1,500-student high school.
- Ninety-one percent would create two 9-12th grade high schools.
- Sixty-nine percent strongly agreed, and 20 percent agreed, that a mid-May date would be good for a bond vote.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583