DeSmet School’s $8 million bond passed overwhelmingly with voters in their district because it was a joint effort between the school, area businesses and the people in their district.

When all is said and done, there will be more than just a new school, but an entire new neighborhood, with low-cost housing for the workers at the businesses in the district, all built around the school.

Principal Matt Driessen described the vision that has now come to fruition thanks to the bond issue that was passed on Tuesday.

“After a TIF district disappeared a few years ago in our district, we wanted to create a signature community,” said Driessen. “What we wanted to do was create a 21st century learning environment for our students, while at the same time we wanted to create a signature community. The two bonds that we put together, one was to double the size of the school with a new gym and a cafeteria that could be used as a community center.”

Driessen expanded on the vision for the new DeSmet community.

“We’re talking the ten acres that we own and putting in roughly 50 single family, blue collar-type homes so that they’re affordable,” he said. “This isn’t low income or high income housing, but housing for the people who work in our school district, so that people who work in the district could actually afford to live, work and their children could learn in the same community.”

Driessen said the goal of the housing component of the bond is to provide truly affordable housing to the people who work in the district.

“Our point is that we have a bunch of people who are working in my school district who cannot live in my school district,” he said. “They commute from Darby, from Arlee, from St. Ignatius, Clinton, and some from as far away as Drummond, and yet we are unable to offer housing to those people. We’re going to create housing so that they can live in the same community in which they work and their children attend school.”

Driessen said school officials and developers are hoping to build modest homes valued at between $200,000 and $250,000, in other words, housing that they can afford to live in with the money they make in the businesses in their school district.

“The developers are very supporting of what we’re trying to do and the way we’re trying to do it,” he said. “All those business that surround us are supporting our school, so wouldn’t I support them.”

Click the link to see the entire plan and the vision for this DeSmet community.