District gets responses in search for new site, but looking for more

Killdeer School Board President Scott Bice watches as the board discussing the differences between three of the reponders to the land proposal.

There is no perfect solution to the Killdeer School District’s search for a new campus location, according to the district superintendent.


By Brad Mosher

The Herald

So far there has been three responses to the search, Superintendent Gary Wilz told the school board Wednesday.

He said each of the three properties has some pluses and minuses which could mean additional costs.

“It is infrastructure, which could mean acceess to city sewer and water, street and road networks for ingress and egress,” he said after the Jan. 9 meeting.

“There are three proposals that are on the table, but we are going to entertain or look at some other possibilities.

“There is one that actually came to my awareness this morning … even though I have been chasing after this for two months,” he added with a chuckle.

Trying to keep to a timeline which can lead to a ballot measure or referendum in several months has kept the superintendent busy.

“It has just been a bit overwhelming,” he explained.

“It may not seem like we are getting that far that quickly, but it is a lot of the behind the scenes work that most people have no clue about,” he added.

He knew that crunch would be coming, in more ways than one.

“We realized we would have to do something like build a new school.

“I also am eyeing retirement at somepoint,” he added with a laugh.

Killdeer District Superintendent Gary Wilz points out some possibile site on a map during the Jan. 9 school board meeting in Killdeer. Herald photos / Brad Mosher

Currently the school district is trying to follow a timetable which could lead to a new school being finished and ready for students to move in by Dec. 2020.

The first step in the process was to develop a community group to help decide on how the school district is going to meet the growing needs of the wave of students coming in at the elementary school level.

From the first meeting the district has been developing a list of people interested in working in the group, which already is more than 30 people.

However, the superintendent added, there is still room for more people interest in helping the district look for the best possible solutions.

“We had people who didn’t sign up at the meeting that wanted to be contacted,” he said, noting the district has been asking for people to sign up since the Community Input Night held in late October.

“Our architect firm and our pre-contruction manager told us to keep it down to about 15 people. You need to get it down to a good core group. They are talking 15 or less, but I do not want to exclude anyone,” Wilz explained.

Icon Archetectural Group was hired by the school board to help with master planning for the educational needs in Killdeer School District, as they try to solve the massive growth in enrollment that is already affecting the school, the students and the staff.

Kyle Kvamme, the company’s business development specialist, focused on drawing out the suggestions for the future project, during the Community Input Night.

“Before we do anything, we want to talk to you guys and hear from you guys,” Kvamme told the audience. “That is why we are here… to understand what you are feeling. Before we do anything, we need to find out how you would react to things.

“We try to get all the right building blocks before we even start. Hopefully, we’ll get to a solution that works for all,” he told the crowd at the October meeting.

That is what they are still working on, according to Wilz.

“He (Kvamme) said to tell them to come and we’ll get it worked out.

“He was open to that (adding more people).

“I guess I am too, because in the end, I don’t perceive a lot of contention, but I want people to have a say. It is valuable in this process.

“If you are involving them and showing that you are honoring them, although not every thing would be going in their direction, it would be getting people involved.

“I am willing to do that, absolutely,” Wilz added.

The larger number of people involved means that the district can take advantage of the different skills that people have to make the best possible choices, according to the superintendent.

“You guys work on that. You work on this. When you come back together, it helps.

“When you are brainstorming, you’ll always get someone who will bring up something that no one else thought of … and it is probably a very dang good idea,” the superintendent said.

One thing Wilz is always aware of is time and trying to keep to a timetable.

“I won’t say we are necessarily ahead or necessarily behind, but what I don’t want to take too much longer is that we get to a decision point on land. That is going to further dictate our schedule to get to an endpoint when this schedule for another school works out.

“They have started some design, but it is very generalized. But, once we knowwhat parcel … we can get some rough estimates from the construction manager,” the superintendent explained.

That means the cost of the changes necessary to fit the property’s features or needs he added. “This is how much it is going to cost. We think that is going to be palatable to the taxpayer or are they going to (rebel) instantly.”

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