Careful Planning and Steady Growth


This fall, RSP Associates, the school planning firm who we have used with 98 percent accuracy told us that BPS is projected to see 1,900 more students in the next 5 years, with most of them  in our secondary schools. Where will we find space for 1,900 more students to learn? And how will we pay for that space? A Community Facilities Task Force of 75 people began wrestling with that question over a year ago. The information below should help you talk with your friends and family when they ask about the proposed bond to expand and improve secondary space:

The Bismarck School Board responded to the Task Force’s recommendation to invest in additions on to Horizon Middle School, Simle Middle School, Wachter Middle School, Century High School, and Bismarck High School. The Business & Operations Manager, Darin Scherr, along with five secondary principals and four architects shared plans with the Board. Not only would the “remodel and expand” be less costly than building a fourth new middle school, doing so makes sense because the “bones” of our secondary schools are good. In addition, the community seems to appreciate the feeder system – knowing which elementary schools feed into which middle schools and which middle school feeds into which high school. This plan presented keeps the feeder system intact.

2016-17-projected-mill-levy-for-bondThe Board is sensitive about debt and directed administration to find ways to fund the $57.5 million in projects while keeping the mill rate of 2015-16 flat into the future. The only way to do this is to use a “retire and replace” strategy. Basically, as mills come off the tax rolls for former school construction projects, we would replace them with new mills for the three middle schools and two high schools the mill rate flat can stay flat or a slightly reduce. (See chart).

Most of us don’t talk in mills. We talk in dollars. Here is an example of a $200,000 home. You can do the math to get an assumption for your own home:


This chart shows the tax impact regarding school bonds. If this plays out as we believe it will, you can see there could actually be a small savings to taxpayers as shown by the (bracketed numbers) even if their home values increase. If the bond failed, people would pay less on school bonds.

Please feel free to use the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document online at under the green Bond Election 2017 tab. Email questions to She will ensure your question is answered and help us build a robust FAQ.

Finally, please plan to attend and invite others to attend one of these bond information meetings:

Tues., Jan. 17   Wachter cafetorium   7-8 pm

Thurs., Jan. 19  Horizon cafetorium     7-8 pm

Tues., Jan. 24   Simle auditorium        7-8 pm

Thank you for your interest in managing steady growth in our schools.


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