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Ben Rodgers, Forum Communications Co., Published October 26 2011

Barnes County voters defeat building central school again

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – For the third time in 13 months, residents in the Barnes County North School District voted against combining the districts’ three schools into one.

Official results were 56 percent in favor of the action with a 60 percent majority required to pass.

The votes were to approve a measure to construct a new school at a more centralized location in the district near Leal and a second measure on whether to increase the debt limit of the district from the 5 percent of assessed value set by the North Dakota Constitution. Both measures had to pass for construction to happen.

Had the measures passed, the district would then operate in one building instead of the three it does now with one in Wimbledon, one near Rogers and Dazey and one in Spiritwood.

The percentage in favor nearly echoed the results from an election for a similar pair of measures on April 19 when 57 percent were in favor. The election before that on Sept. 16, 2010, saw 51 percent in favor.

“We were short pretty close to the same last time,” said BCN Superintendent Doug Jacobson.

The $13.9 million construction bond issue would have been paid for with cost savings generated by operating a single school, according to Jacobson.

Results for the measure regarding the school from the campus near Rogers and Dazey were 121 “yes” votes and 240 “no” votes, Wimbledon/Courtenay votes came to 239-83, and the results from Spiritwood were 141-76. The total tally was 501-399.

The school board approved the canvass without discussion, Jacobson said.

“They convened the board meeting, they looked at the canvassed results and it was simply a matter of a motion and a second,” he said. “They approved the motion, there was no discussion and they approved the canvass, and they adjourned the meeting.”

Myron Kunze, Dazey-area resident, said he was happy with the results

“I’m glad we got it defeated again and hopefully now they (supporters) give up for a while,” he said.

Kunze said it would be easier to run the district out of two schools, one for elementary and middle school and one for high school.

“If we lose many more kids they’ll all fit into one campus, I know that,” he said. “And the cost per student is terrible. If we had 600, 700 kids it would be different, but we don’t.”

BCN School Board President Lori Carlson said it’s frustrating to see a measure fail when it the majority supports it.

“The hard part of it is for me, when I look at this that the public did not vote ‘no,’” Carlson said. “Fifty-six percent of our people voted yes. I have a problem with the supermajority that the state requires.”

The second question on the ballot also did not collect the required 60 percent majority. Instead it had 54 percent in favor with a tally of 481-417.

Ben Rodgers writes for the Jamestown Sun.