RICHARDTON — The Richardton-Taylor school district is getting a new high school.
Residents of Richardton and Taylor voted on Tuesday night to approve a bond referendum during a special election, though the results were clearly split between the two towns.
Sixty-five percent voted in favor of the $2 million bond referendum for the $12 million project. Curiously, nineteen less voters approved of raising the district’s debt limit by 5 percent to help finance the project with a $10 million loan from the Bank of North Dakota.
“We’ve been working on this thing for two-and-a-half, three years,” Richardton-Taylor Superintendent Brent Bautz said late Tuesday night. “We’ve put a lot of hard work into it. It’s good to finally realize it’s coming to fruition.”
The bond referendum needed a 60 percent “yes” vote to pass. It was decided by just 28 votes.
Vote tallies showed Richardton voters overwhelmingly supported the project while Taylor residents opposed it.
Seventy-three percent of Richardton residents voted in favor of both the referendum and raising the debt limit. Only 43 percent of Taylor residents voted for the referendum and 40 percent voting to raise the debt limit.
Bautz said the district needed to raise the debt limit because the North Dakota Century Code would have only allowed the district to borrow 5 percent of its assessed value, which wouldn’t have been enough for the project. The approve allows the district to borrow 10 percent of its assessed value.
Bautz said the district would like to begin construction on the project next spring with a scheduled completion by summer 2018.
Richardton-Taylor’s administration and school board approached residents about a remodel earlier this year because of decay in the 55-year-old facility and as a long-term cost-cutting move.
The current high school building in Richardton holds grades 7-12. The elementary school in Taylor has grades 2-6. Pre-kindergarten through first-grade students are in the St. Mary’s Social Center Building in Richardton, which costs roughly $72,000 annually in lease payments and additional staff.
With the referendum passed, pre-K through first grade will move to Taylor and grades 5-12 will be placed in Richardton.