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Mapleton school referendum fails by 2 votes

The school's $5.3-million bond issue needed 60% approval, and the vote came in at 59.2%.

A school building with a white facade.
Mapleton Elementary School is pictured Friday, June 17, 2022, in Mapleton, North Dakota.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum
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MAPLETON, N.D. — A school bond referendum in Mapleton failed by just two votes last Tuesday, June 14.

A total of 183 residents, or 59.2%, voted for a $5.3-million bond to build a new wing to the district's elementary school and complete other remodeling, while 126, or 40.8%, were opposed.

North Dakota law calls for a 60% approval vote for a bond to pass.

"Yep, it was very close," said School Board President Josh Radcliffe. "We just needed two more votes."

He said the ballots were recounted twice with the same result.

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Radcliffe, who was reelected to the school board Tuesday along with Kara Henrickson, who represents the rural part of the district, said a lot of residents and comments on Facebook have been urging the school board to ask for another vote.

He said the five-member school board will wait for a bit.

"I'm really bummed," Radcliffe said, "but the district will reground and take some time to think about it."

It was the second referendum vote this year, as an initial vote in January, also for $5.3 million, failed by about 12% with only 48% in favor.

Radcliffe thought they had a better shot this time around as they had four public meetings and also recorded them to offer to residents.

He believes some residents still think it would cost them thousands of dollars a year.

In the community meetings, he said, they tried to reassure residents it wouldn't be nearly that costly.

For example, on Radcliffe's $275,000 home, it would have been about another $30 per month or about $360 per year for a 20-year period.

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Yet some residents, as evidenced by the vote, were opposed to the measure. One man interviewed earlier by The Forum, John Mittleider, said he didn't think the time was right to add to property tax bills, and he doubted enrollment increase figures.

Radcliffe, however, has said they will need to add on in the next few years with enrollment steadily increasing each year in the kindergarten-through-sixth-grade school.

The newer $7.2-million school, which opened in 2017, had just 104 students at that time but has doubled to more than 200. That school replaced a 92-year-old structure that didn't meet safety standards and had outdated infrastructure.

Projections are that the school could reach almost 270 students in another three years, which would put the building over capacity.

The town's population has been booming in recent years with several new housing developments in the community about 8 miles west of West Fargo.

The proposed project would have added about 10 new classrooms plus bathrooms in the new wing, expanded the kitchen and common area, and remodeled the office area and two classrooms.

Most of the Mapleton Elementary students transition to Central Cass High School in Casselton for junior and senior high. The district earlier this year was hoping to add space to allow middle school students to attend seventh and eighth grade in town, but it has reconsidered that move for now.

An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. bamundson@forumcomm.com 701-451-5665
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