Killdeer school growth choices not unique

Although Killdeer School District is facing a crucial decision on how to meet a dramatic surge in student growth, it is a choice that other school districts have had to make.

By Brad Mosher

The Herald

According to Ross Wilmes, the director of operations at Kraus-Anderson, the situation is not unique in North Dakota.
‘This is pretty common. A lot of similar communities go through, just trying to determine what the best solution is for each community. Every community is different. It is not always the same solution in every community.
“You have to look at it in a case-by-case basis.
“You have to make sure the solution works for that particular community,” he explained.
The process is the same, but each community makes its own choices, he said. “It is very common for a district which has all of its students in one facility. Very often when you are looking at expanding you look at branching off especially when you are limited in your space like we are in Killdeer.
“There is not a lot of room on that site to expand and there is not a lot of room parking as it is now,” he said. “It is tough there. There is just not a lot of space on that existing site.”
The new facility will need to have a much larger footprint, according to Wilmes. “A typical new school, a stand-alone facility, whether it would be an elementary of a high school we would expect it to be bigger. An elementary school would be about 20 acres and a new high school, depending on the exterior amenities, we typically see that as 30 to 40 acres. Thirty to 35 would be about what we would see typically for buildings to house this many students,” he said. That is not to say that it can’t be done on a smaller site, but you just have to be a little more creative with your spacing and uses for your site.”
Wilmes said that he was impressed with the community meeting in Killdeer.
“I thought it was very positive, with good engagement and people had a lot of good ideas,” Wilmes said about the community meeting in the Killdeer School wrestling room.
“There is a range of what we typically see for schools in western North Dakota,” he said, noting the price per square foot for the different campus choices. “We expect that it will fall somewhere in that range.”
The people who attended the community meeting seemed to be leaning toward choosing to build a new secondary school campus, Wilmes said. “Opinions change, so that could change down the road if they see a different option which makes more sense. At this early stage, that seemed to be the way the majority of the people in attendance would prefer.
“It is still early on, so the architects are still working through the program to make sure they have all the required space and not have any duplication if possible,” Wilmes said. “They want maximize every use of the dollar and make sure we are going down the right road for something like this, he added.
The choice of a new secondary school would require a campus with more square footage because of the needs of the high school curriculum, he added.

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