Mandan News

Wilfred Volesky: A school district Christmas list

Each year most of us make a list containing items we would like to receive as Christmas gifts. We then give this list to family members so they know what we would like to receive.

As I get older, it seems that creating this list becomes more difficult each year. It is not like I don’t need anything since numerous times throughout the year I find that I don’t have the proper tools to complete a project, the necessary attire or equipment for hunting or fishing, or a good book that I can read during leisure time. In spite of not having all of these things at a given time, when my wife instructs me to create my Christmas list I just can’t seem to remember all of the things that I needed in the past. Part of the problem is I need to come up with more than two or three suggestions, since family members want to have about twice as many ideas as the number of gifts that I will receive.

As I was struggling to create my personal list, I started to think that it would be easier for me to create a wish list for the Mandan School District. Instead of concentrating on my list, I started thinking about what the Mandan School District could use for Christmas. I figured three larger gifts would be plenty. At this time I also decided that the school district Christmas wish list would be my topic for my December article in the Mandan News. So here is my Christmas wish list for the Mandan School District.

The first wish would be the sale of the old Junior High and the Central Administration Building. Both of these district facilities have been on the market for some time. It would be nice to sell these properties so we could eliminate the expenses that come along with ownership of a facility. As you may know, just recently the City of Mandan and the School District decided not to accept the two bids that were received on the old Junior High. Neither bid had the specifics that were outlined in the Request for Proposal document created by the city and school district. With the rejection of these bids the school district will retain ownership of the Junior High and will either need to decide whether to use the facility in some manner or decide upon a new bid process to sell the facility.

The Central Administration Building currently houses our administrative offices and the Morton/Sioux Special Education offices. At the present time we have a need for this facility. All of these offices will be moved to the Community Center once the facility is renovated. We will also be moving some Vocational classes – Office Education, Carpentry and Health Careers – to the Community Center. We will retain a court large enough on which basketball and volleyball can be played and where physical education classes can be taught. The timeline for completion of renovation is March 1, but we are hopeful that it can be completed several weeks prior to the timeline. It would be a nice gift knowing the Central Administration Building has been sold before we move out of the facility.

The second wish is a certainty about future enrollment. It is difficult to try to plan when you are not certain about future enrollment trends. Was our enrollment increase of 122 students in grades K-12 this fall abnormal, or is it a trend that will continue into the future? Enrollment increases of 10 to 25 students, as we have seen in the past, can be handled. But yearly increases of 100 plus students, especially when many of them register just before the start of the school year, becomes problematic. We recently conducted a census survey of our school district to try to determine the number of children ages 0 to 17 that reside in our district and where they live in our district. This information will be compiled within the next several weeks. This information will be helpful in planning.  owever, last year we had a number of new families enroll their students in our district and it is hard to predict the number of new students we will have from families moving into our district. A solid enrollment number for the 2011-12 school year would be an excellent gift.

A final wish would be additional classroom space for grades K through five. Our fall enrollment of 3,291 students maxed out space in our elementary schools throughout the district. We currently have second grade classrooms that have 27 students. Although we have a full-time paraprofessional in these classrooms, with 27 students, it is difficult for the teacher to give students the individual attention that they need in order to receive a quality education. Additional classroom space appears to be a necessity in the future. How we accomplish getting this extra space is the big question. Ideas being considered at this time are building additional classrooms at Fort Lincoln Elementary, constructing portables near some elementary schools, building a new elementary in the district and the possible use of the old junior high for some classrooms. Additional classroom space would be a very useful gift.

As I finalize my district Christmas list I hear my wife ask, “Do you have your Christmas list completed?” My response is “Certainly I have it completed. I would like a blue shirt rather than a yellow shirt, brown socks rather than black socks and a multi-colored black tie rather than a blue tie.”

As I give my list to my wife I am hoping that family members will be more creative then I when they purchase my Christmas gifts.