July 2019 News & Notes


Goal: Raise $5 million to support renovation of the old Hagan pool building into an innovation academy for 5th-8th grades and turn 7,000 square feet of old auto shop space into core classrooms and a robotics lab for the Middle School.

Purpose: WPSD#1’s enrollment continues to increase and we need more space! The old Hagan pool is not in use and the building is in good condition. By filling in the pool and adding a second floor, we can turn a pool into a school to accommodate 400 students. That reduces the population of students in core classes at the Bakken Elementary and Williston Middle School.

Benefits: WPSD#1 has embraced personalized learning for students in grades K-12 over the past year in recognition that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education does not provide the best student outcomes. All students are unique in their interests, their learning styles, and their learning pace. The renovated pool building provides a wonderful opportunity to design a learning environment that supports and enhances the delivery of student-centered learning. Large, collaborative settings combined with smaller break out spaces promote project-based learning, self-pacing, working in multiple subject areas, and cross-curricular teaching. Teachers, staff, and administrators will be able to visit the innovation academy to observe how personalized learning can be implemented.

Innovation Students: During the 2019-2020 school year, the Bakken Elementary will continue a personalized learning pilot for 5th and 6th graders. For the opening of the innovation academy in the Fall of 2020, students from 5th, 6th, and 7th grades will be selected based on an application process. 8th grade students will be added in the Fall of 2021. Just as not all students learn best in a traditional setting, not all students learn best in a personalized learning environment. Therefore, teacher and parent recommendations will be considered in determining which students attend the innovation academy for their core classes. Students in the innovation academy will participate in music, band, phy-ed, and other electives at the Bakken or Williston Middle School. Peer tutoring, small group instruction, one on one instruction, and tiered interventions will be available for students in the innovation academy.

Timeline: Significant funds will have to be pledged by mid-August for the School Board to be able to authorize construction on the project to move forward in time to be completed by the Fall 2020 school year. The current building fund balance is not sufficient to cover the $13.8 million needed for the innovation academy and CTE space renovation at the Middle School.

Long Term District Strategy: Our number one goal is to increase capacity throughout K-12 to accommodate our increased population. The innovation academy will add 400 seats to that capacity and reduces the number of seats that we will need to create in the future. The design features used in the renovation provide maximum flexibility for future uses of the building. At a cost of $12 million, the renovation of an existing asset provides significant cost savings over new construction and the purchase of land. Finally, the project re-purposes an obsolete building that may otherwise fall into disrepair.

Donations: All donations are accepted and can be made through the Williston Coyote Foundation, a nonprofit organized, registered 501(c)(3) entity through the IRS. http://willistoncoyotefoundation.com/. Please designate your donation "innovation academy."

More Information: Please visit our website at: https://academy.willistonschools.org/home To schedule a presentation on the academy and/or discuss sponsorship opportunities, please contact School Board President Joanna Baltes at Joanna.baltes@gmail.com, Superintendent Dr. Jeff Thake at Jeffrey.thake@willistonschools.org, or Codi Austreim, Executive Director of the Coyote Foundation at codi.austreim@willistonschools.org


In Loving Memory:

Gifts to the Foundation

  • David and Veanna Selid, in memory of Shane Jensen
  • Arvid and Judy Johnson, in memory of Jerry Martinson Class of 1964
  • Roger and Sandy Kohlman, in memory of Warren Beckman
  • Arlan and Gayle Arnson, in memory of Jerry Martinson Class of 1964
  • Pete and Kristen Conlin, in memory of Jerry Martinson Class of 1964
  • Tim and Jill Kleven, for the Jim Haugen Memorial Teacher Fund
  • Tim and Jill Kleven, for the Innovation Academy capital campaign
  • Don and Mary Ann Richardson, in memory of Ellen Lynch -- Class of 1957
  • Mark and Shelley Ellis, in memory of Jerry Martinson
  • Marty and Wanda Hanson, in memory of Elaine Sinness and Jerry Martinson, for the WHS Class of 1968
  • Dave and Tina Hanson, in memory of Jennifer Anderson, for the Anderson Family
  • Mark and Shelley Ellis, in memory of George Turcotte
  • Gerald Charles Miller, LLC, for the Innovation Academy capital campaign
  • Paula and Russell Schilke, in memory of Patricia Jo Evenson, Marion Louise Paulsen, Sharon Carns Beutler -- and in honor of Larry and Sandy Schilke's 50th wedding anniversary, for the Innovation Academy capital campaign
  • David and Veanna Selid, in memory of Doug Ganje
  • Elaine (Nelson) Sommers, in memory of Jerry Martinson
  • Craig McIvor, in memory of Jerry Martinson, Vern Owan, Elaine Sinness, for the Ben McIvor Memorial Scholarship

Did You Know?

We do so much more than scholarships at the Williston Coyote Foundation. We also look for ways to help the schools through unrestricted funds donated to our Foundation, grants written on behalf of the schools, and donor-specific gifts.

We are thrilled to announce that we have set up two qualified charitable endowments through the Williston Coyote Foundation:  The Nadine Sukut Bloomquist Memorial Endowment and the John and Cathy Schmitz Endowment for the Betterment of Williston Schools.  The State of North Dakota offers a tax credit for donations of $5000 or more to a qualified endowment, and we would be happy to discuss how your donation can be utilized in the best possible way for both you and the schools, students, and teachers at WPSD #1! 

​If you or your company would like to know more about ways you can help Williston Public Schools, please feel free to contact us at the Williston Coyote Foundation. We would love to visit with you about how your donation can be used for the benefit of the schools, students, and staff of WPSD #1.

As always, your donations are tax-deductible and very much appreciated. You can donate conveniently online or can mail any donations to our address listed below. We could not continue our mission of promoting and supporting Williston Public School District #1 without the help of our generous donors! ​