- Associated Press - Sunday, February 7, 2016

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - A school district in Williston is holding a bond referendum on a new school as officials seek to alleviate overcrowding amid student enrollment growth.

Voting will be held Tuesday on the referendum for a new kindergarten through eighth grade school in New Public School District No. 8, the Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/1X5cdzB ) reported. Last year, a bond referendum for a kindergarten through 12th grade school failed to pass, largely because many voters felt they didn’t receive enough information.

The district has had to buy more modular buildings in order to meet the needs of a growing student population.

Stony Creek Middle School teacher Amy Avery has had to arrange the desks in her sixth-grade modular classroom four times as her roster has grown from 19 students at the beginning of the year to 26 students in recent months.

Several informational sessions on the new bond referendum have been held in an effort to ensure those residing in the district can make an informed decision. Many of those who opposed the last referendum are on board with the proposed school, said Superintendent Rob Turner.

However, the school district has had to respond to objections from Charles Cartier, a constituent who took out an ad urging the public to vote against the bond election.

Cartier has urged the district to sue School Land Trust for the funds to build a school, because he feels there’s a written obligation in the state’s constitution for the state to provide funds for such projects.

“In our state’s constitution it says it has to provide free education for all students,” Cartier said. “If (the state) can get this put into property tax, they can hoard their funds. There’s nothing in our constitution that says property tax can be used to fund schools.”

After investigating the matter, the school board decided that it wouldn’t be in the district’s best interest to do anything further.

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