Simle Middle School
Opened in 1962, Simle Middle School is the oldest surviving middle school in Bismarck. Originally designated “Hillside Park Junior High”, the school was renamed in 1964 later after T.E. Simle, Bismarck superintendent from 1952-1963. Simle changed from the Junior High to the Middle School format in 1994.
The school was approved in October 1960 when voters favored a $1,850,000 bond measure, which also an addition to Bismarck High School and demolishing the adjoining junior high (built in 1912 as the high school).
Grading work commenced soon after with construction commencing in 1961. The board hired a local architect, Bernard Hillyer, to design the school.
Originally, the building spanned 74,845 square feet and included 22 classrooms, library, gymnasium, “language laboratory,” three science rooms with two labs, guidance room, 900-seat auditorium, cafeteria, art room, band and choir room, workshops, and three music rooms. An athletic field was included to its south.
Hillside Park Junior High was renamed Simle in 1964 to honor Superintendent T.E. Simle, who died the previous November.
South Wing Expansion
Voters approved a $4.9 million bond measure on December 3, 1990 to expand Simle Junior High and Solheim Elementary; $4.1 million of which dedicated to Simle’s expansion with an additional $225,000 towards replacing Simle’s roof totally just over $4.3 million.
When completed in 1992, the project replaced the gymnasium and cafeteria and added ten additional classrooms. The former cafeteria and gymnasium area was divided into two floors and converted to house the library, common area, music room, and ten additional classrooms. A 45,000-square foot expansion to the south added a new cafeteria and gymnasium with retractable dividing wall for different configurations for one large gymnasium or two subdivided.
A major $3 million renovation project was completed in early 2009, this time targeted at the original north wing. The original blue-green window panels were replaced with a material that blended with the 1992 addition. Asbestos abatement and interior remodeling were completed, while aid conditioning was added. The project added two new family and consumer science classrooms, two new science classrooms, and two specialty rooms.
In March 2017, voters overwhelmingly authorized a $57.5 million bond measure to finance expansions to all three middle schools, including Simle, as well as adding a 650-seat auditorium to Bismarck High School and additional classrooms at Century High School.