Minot Public Schools has announced the acquisition of 37-acres in North Minot from Cognizant. The plan is to repurpose the buildings and campus for a second high school. The School District’s full news release follows below.
— Official News Release, Minot Public Schools —
Minot Public School District #1, in conjunction with Cognizant, is thrilled to announce the donation of the Cognizant Campus on North Hill to the Minot Public School District, including all real property located on the 37-acre campus. An agreement for the transfer was approved by the Minot Public School District Board of Education at a special board meeting today, June 26, 2020. A copy of the purchase agreement is available for your review.
This agreement will allow Cognizant to continue operations at the Minot facility until December, 2021. Mark Vollmer, Superintendent of Minot Public Schools, stated, “This transfer is an incredible gift to the people of Minot, and opens the door to many exciting opportunities for the youth of our community.” Vollmer added, “The generosity of Minot voters allowed for the expansion of our elementary capacity in 2014. The pressure is now on in our middle and high school buildings – the Cognizant campus can be reconfigured and expanded to enhance options for students in our community.”
Currently, Minot Public Schools has 3,635 students enrolled in secondary programs. Overcrowding is most evident in our middle schools. The district anticipates Jim Hill Middle School will be nearly 140 students over capacity in the 2020/2021 school year. Erik Ramstad Middle School, which was rebuilt with additional square footage after the Souris River Flood of 2011, has also surpassed student capacity.
Jim Rostad, Minot Public School Board of Education President states, “As larger classes continue into middle school and high school, the need for additional space has now shifted from elementary to secondary.” Rostad added, “The Cognizant Campus provides our district great flexibility in addressing the needs of our educational community, ultimately resulting in two comprehensive 9-12 high schools in Minot for a much lower cost than new construction.”
The Cognizant campus includes two buildings, parking lots and green space. The main building is approximately 115,000 square feet, roughly half the amount of space needed for a 1,200 student, comprehensive 9-12 high school. A second building on the property, with approximately 7,500 square feet, could be used to house special programs.
Minot Public School District #1 has grown by nearly 1,600 students since 2008. In December 2013, the board of education proposed a $125,000,000 bond issue to deal with overcrowding at all levels. This issue called for expansion of two existing elementary schools, the construction of a new elementary school in southeast Minot, the construction of a new high school, the conversion of Magic City Campus to a comprehensive 9-12 high school, with Central Campus serving as the district’s third in-town middle school. The issue was unsuccessful.
In April 2014, the board of education proposed a $39,500,000 bond issue to alleviate the most pressing concern – overcrowding in elementary schools. This issue called for the expansion of Edison and Perkett Elementary schools, the construction of John Hoeven Elementary, as well as safety and security upgrades in all schools. This issue passed with 68% patron support.
The district has continued to explore options to expand capacity at our secondary schools. Despite a recent downturn in oil production in western North Dakota, district enrollment continues to grow. The district anticipates student enrollment will surpass 8,000 students by 2023.
The district has continued to add portable double-classroom modular units at Jim Hill Middle School to alleviate overcrowding. As larger class sizes enter middle level programming, the situation has become dire. The district added two additional portable classroom units in early June to prepare for the district’s largest 6 th grade class in recent history. “Simply put, we have run out of space in our middle and high school buildings, and we have no space to add additional portable classrooms,” added Rostad.
Superintendent Vollmer said that overcrowding is only one concern the district has faced. Minot operates a split-campus high school, with students in grades 9 and 10 housed at Central Campus in downtown Minot and students in grades 11 and 12 at Magic City Campus. This unique configuration means that Minot, while not the largest community in the state, has the largest high school. In addition, the district believes that two comprehensive high schools will allow students to work with the same teachers, counselors, and principals throughout their high school career. “Relationships are key – and we know that consistency in programming is paramount in determining student success, and will ultimately open the door for more post-secondary opportunities,” stated Vollmer.
Jim Rostad adds, “The district’s original plan brought forth in 2013 – the transition to a two-high school system and transition of Central Campus as the community’s third in-town middle school is solid, will provide more opportunities for our students to excel in academics and extra-curricular activities, and will accomplish this at a substantial cost savings to our taxpayers.”
“The generosity shown by Cognizant is a game-changer for our community and proof that . . . together we get better,” Rostad said.