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Bismarck School Board approves land purchases for 2 elementary schools

Bismarck School Board approves land purchases for 2 elementary schools

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The Bismarck School Board has approved purchase agreements for land on which two elementary schools will be built.

The district last month approved construction of the schools, in northeast and northwest Bismarck, at an estimated cost of about $11 million each, to address rising enrollment and space needs at schools that are at or near capacity. They're to be completed in time for the beginning of school in August 2022.

The district will pay about $1.16 million to Bismarck North Developers, owned by Ron Knutson, for land in the Elk Ridge development west of Horizon Middle School.

The other land is part of the Silver Ranch development in northeast Bismarck. The district will pay about $1.14 million to Investcore, owned by Chad Wachter, for that plot.

Existing district funds will be used to pay for the land.

Property taxes will not increase due to the purchases. However, operational and maintenance costs for the new schools would result in an increased school district budget.

The land area is about 15 acres at each site. The Elk Ridge plot is slightly larger than the Silver Ranch plot, but the difference is less than half an acre, District Business Manager Darin Scherr said at a school board meeting Monday.

The price per square foot is $1.75 at both sites, which is “right in line with what one would expect” to pay for property that size, Scherr said.

The agreements are not final, pending engineering and other types of inspections, but both deals are set to close this fall.

The district owns 79 acres of land on North 26th St. Discussions were broached about some kind of land swap arrangement, but nobody was interested and the district plans to just hold onto that land for now, Scherr said.

The elementary schools will have an initial capacity of 270-300 students but will be constructed so they could be expanded to hold up to 625 students if enrollment growth continues.

Constructing the elementary schools is only the first part of a three-phase plan to address building needs in the district.

Phase two calls for the creation of a facilities master plan to determine future building needs. It will use markers, such as enrollment levels, to trigger decision-making by the board in the future.

Phase three involves using the facilities plan to identify which other schools need more space. Legacy High School and Lincoln Elementary already have been identified for potential future expansions.

Reach Bilal Suleiman at 701-250-8261 or Bilal.Suleiman@bismarcktribune.com

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