When one door closes, another opens, according to Williston Public School District Number One. After two failed bond votes that would have built new schools and add onto existing ones, school board members say they are getting creative with the infrastructure they already have.
The district’s 20,000 square foot Hagan Indoor Pool across the street from Bakken Elementary has been sitting unused since 2014. To address overcrowding issues the school board is turning it into an ‘Innovation Academy’, which will hold four hundred fifth through eighth graders.
Joanna Baltes WPSD #1 School Board President says, “We want to be able to do something without waiting a year until we can go back to the voters for another bond. We really want to make sure that we are doing that for the teachers so they have better class sizes.”
The building will be an extension of the academic pilot program offered to one hundred fifth graders last year. It makes learning more individualized and has flexible seating to help engage and stimulate kids. Doctor Thake says when he witnessed the program at work in classrooms, he was impressed and wants to give more students the experience.
Dr. Jeff Thake WPSD #1 Superintendent adds, “I felt like I was at one of my national cohorts, touring one of the most cutting-edge academies I’ve ever seen. We have the people in our district right now who are able to do this, and that’s where the excitement comes from.”
Board members say the project includes converting the 7,000 square foot auto shop into classrooms as well. Most of the money for the 13.8 million dollar renovations will come from the district’s 11 million dollar building fund, and the rest will be raised in a campaign that will launch soon.