It's fair to say that we have all recently had conversations about the Williston Basin School District #7's plans for the Middle School Reorganization. Now, I am writing this as a general citizen, with information found on the school district's website and from the School Board Meeting (available on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/live/Bcc0yZq93Rk?feature=share).
First things first, change is HARD. No one likes a massive shake-up, and when it comes to our children, it's even more of a sensitive situation. The hard truth is that we NEED to work together to solve the current problems. The main issues: The incoming Kindergarten class is much larger (over 500 students) than what we have space or teachers for, which means larger class sizes. With sizes already sitting between 24 to 28, this means over 30 students in the kindergarten classes. Guys, that's A LOT of tiny humans. By reorganizing the middle school campus (including Bakken Elementary, Williston Middle School, and ASB Innovation Academy), they can utilize buildings to their full potential and cause the least disruption.
At the beginning of this month, I wrote an article that was more of a Fast Fact, diving into the information in the Long Term Facilities Planning Report (you can still see it online at https://issuu.com/theshopper/docs/3-2-23) that highlights the current enrollment and the capacities of the buildings as of the 2022/2023 school year.
Here are the three proposed scenarios:
Bakken and Middle School - configuration stays as is, but add Missouri Ridge 5-8.
ASB Innovation Academy- Leave configuration as is, add 50 more students for max capacity, new Lottery needed (the Lottery is speaking of how students are chosen to attend)
Missouri Ridge and Garden Valley become a K-4.
Middle School is just 6th Grade, Bakken is 7th & 8th, ASB Innovation academy becomes just 5th Grade
Missouri Ridge becomes K-5, and Garden Valley becomes K-4.
Bakken becomes 6th/7th/8th (each floor is a different grade), Williston Middle School is just 5th Grade (on the second and third floor), ASB Innovation Academy - Leave configuration as is, add 50 students for max capacity, New Lottery Needed (the Lottery is speaking of how students are chosen to attend).
During the Middle School Reconfiguration Forum, both the public and staff could vote on which scenario they'd prefer, along with offering constructive (ok, let's be real, not all of it was constructive) criticism. The majority of votes favored Scenario 3, and this is what appears to be happening. The district is technically opening a new Missouri Ridge elementary school, with up to 400+ seats available for K-4.
Bussing is being discussed, as well as drawing new school boundary lines; Dr. Faidley stated there would be focus groups in April/May for each proposed boundary. They will publicize these meetings specifically to those that live within the boundaries to attend. RSP Associates will be available to answer questions. They have a goal of K-2 having an average class size of 22.
I appreciate that the School District has taken the time to meet with the public and that they are asking for input. We all know that work needs to be done, buildings need repairs, and teachers need our support. The above scenarios are temporary fixes, and we must look at permanent options soon. Please ask questions, email administrators, and attend the Ask the Superintendent meetings. Together, I am confident we can make great things happen.