Killdeer superintendent facing tight timetable to beat wave of student growth

Time is precious, according to Killdeer superintendent Gary Wilz.
“We can’t keep stepping back in time to consider this or consider that. We just need to know this is where we are at and keep this moving forward as fast we can,” he said after the Jan. 29 community meeting in the Killdeer weight room.

By Brad Mosher

The Herald

The timetable is tight with the need to place a referendum on the ballot for people to vote on the final proposal for a new school facility.
The district is under severe time constraints to try to stay ahead of the wave of new students coming into the district and be able to build a new facility, he explained.
“We have better spelled out the options,” he said, pointing to the people who attended the meeting.
There is a rumor mill that says we have already decided, the superintendent said. “We haven’t decided anything yet. These are options up here,” he said, pointing to the charts displayed on the wall by a projector.
In addition, the superintendent is keeping track of several proposals at the state capitol which would have an impact on Killdeer’s plans.
“There is one to see if we can get a low-interest construction loan. Right now, the max you can get is $10 million. There is some proposals out there to consider $15 million. We have no clue what the legislature will put in that pot of money this year or for this next biennium,” he said.
He also is hoping the state makes some changes where the district’s oil money isn’t counted against the district.
“Right now, if I get a million dollars in oil money, 750,000 of those dollars gets discounted against our foundation aid – meaning we get to keep our oil money, but … $750,000 is taken off the payment we should have received from the state of North Dakota.
“I understand the reason the state is doing that is because everything is based up the equity and adequacy lawsuit that happened quite a few years ago,” the superintendent said. “They want to be able to say they are adequately funding schools. They came up with formula for oil dollars that we receive. They don’t want us to be so rich because of the oil. They say you can keep it (the oil dollars) but you are not going to get as much in aid from the state,” he said.
“The idea at the state level is that building schools is a local responsibility,” the superintendent said.
There is a history to where the state helped out school districts in the past. “We have gone back and looked at the history when the production and use of coal was increasing in the state back in the 1970s and the 1980s. The state actually did step in and gave them (Beulah and Hazen) some form of grant or reprieve with the dollars they took so that they (Beulah and Hazen) could build.”
Now, the superintendent said, the state has a different attitude. “You need to go to your people if you need to build schools,” the superintendent said is the message sent to the school districts by the state.
“You can always keep your fingers crossed and always be hopeful that they will (help). But I don’t know that they will,” the superintendent said.

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