Mott-Regent Passes $8.7 Million School Bond Issue by Thinnest of Margins

MOTT — Mott-Regent is getting a new elementary school and making major improvements to its high school.

The district’s school board made that official Monday after a canvassing meeting found that 61 percent of the district’s residents voted in favor of the $8.7 million bond referendum. The project needed a 60 percent “yes” vote to pass.

Viola LaFontaine, the district’s new superintendent who is just settling into her role and doesn’t start full time until July, said she has heard the mixed opinions about the bond passing.

“When you get a vote this close, you know there’s opinions out there,” she said. “I’m hearing different things.”

The bond calls for a 32.01 mill levy increase, or about a $143 increase on $100,000 in residential property. Cropland will see an average tax increase of 93 cents an acre.

A total of 639 district residents in Hettinger, Adams and Stark counties voted on the bond referendum, with only 390 voting yes. It was such a thin margin, the school board waited to receive additional mail-in ballots at Monday’s canvassing meeting to officially announce the results. They received just one mail-in ballot.

Mott-Regent has 240 students in its system.

With the funding, the district will construct a new elementary school, remodel and renovate the high school building, and demolish the old elementary school.

Work could begin immediately, LaFontaine said. Though she and school board president Kevin Roth said the school is likely going to ensure all the legal aspects of the project are shored up.

“We’re not going to rush into anything,” Roth said. “We’re going to do our due diligence and do everything properly. Hopefully everything will come in under bid.”

Consolidated Construction was hired as the contractor at-risk for the project. LaFontaine said the company wants to start soil borings and sight surveys soon.

“Some of those things, I think we can do pretty quickly,” she said.

The school will officially approach the Bank of North Dakota this week about a 2 percent, 20-year loan.

“The main thing is we just move forward from here,” she said. “I’m a very open and willing to listen to people, and am looking to make this a positive move for the Mott-Regent School District. … This is an opportunity for the school to celebrate education.”

The district also canvassed the election of incumbent school board members Garret Swindler and Lucas Greff, as well as newly elected Jeremy Ottmar. All three ran unopposed.

Author: Dustin Monke

Former newspaper editor. Now I market the best baked goods and donuts in America. But every once in a while, I write a cool story too.

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