Watford City Voters Approve Funding For New School


January 16, 2019 | View PDF

Watford City voters have overwhelmingly approved two ballot initiatives set to fund the construction of an elementary school and provide potential funding for another.

Two questions were asked of voters. The first was whether or not residents should approve a general obligation bond up to 35 million dollars for the purpose of building a new elementary school, which would raise millage an additional 13 mills, equal to $13 dollars on each thousand dollars taxable valuation for the first taxable year. The second question posed was whether residents should approve an increase of its school Building Fund Levy from 10 mills to 20 in order to facilitate additional anticipated building needs.

Voters approved the measures on January 8, with more than 80% of voters voting ‘yes’ on the first question and more than 71% voting ‘yes’ on the second question. Sixty percent of voters needed to approve the measures for them to move forward, which was handily achieved. A similar bonding issue was narrowly rejected in the Williston School District the same day.

The Roundup spoke with Shilo Chavez, who organized the ‘Vote Yes Committee,’ which promoted the passage of both initiatives.

Chavez told the Roundup that she was excited about the two questions being answered by voters in the affirmative. Although there were not as high a percentage of affirming votes as the last similar school-funding measure, there was enough to get it done.

Chavez said, “The last vote was closer to 90 percent in favor, so we did come down from that, but we still see that a large part of the community supported it. We knew there were people who weren’t excited about the building structure of the high school and so may not be for the new elementary school, but we still had a lot of support from people in the community.”

Chavez also commented on the narrow defeat in Williston.

“I’m heartbroken for Williston,” Chavez continued, “and I hope they have the ballots come in from absentees that they need. I believe their need is actually worse than our own here in Watford City. From my understanding, they’re already using quite a few portables and just lack the necessary space.”

According to Chavez, the results won’t be official until all absentee ballots are counted, but it likely won’t make a difference in the election’s outcome.

Chavez reported, “The ballots that came in prior to the vote have been counted and had to be postmarked by the 7th. They’ll do a final tally on the 14th and will have the School Board approve the votes then. There are about twenty ballots that still haven’t been returned yet. Ultimately, we’re not expecting it to change anything.”

Chavez expressed thanks to the community, saying, “We want to say thank you to everybody who supported us and supported our future and supported our kids. Thanks to everybody who helped sponsor the ‘Vote Yes Committee’ and helped to get the word out.

As for the ‘Vote Yes Committee,’ Chavez says their work is done.

“For the most part,” Chavez said, “we’ll just dissolve. Most people from the committee are already involved in other areas as parent volunteers. We don’t have any next project.”


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