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Moorhead shelves proposed addition to Horizon in favor of long-term look at school needs

Plans have been shelved for the Horizon Middle School in Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

MOORHEAD – School District officials here have shelved the idea – at least for now – of creating a fifth- and sixth-grade addition to Horizon Middle School.

The idea was included in a plan unanimously approved in November by the School Board. It called for potentially asking voters to sign off on the addition sometime between 2015 and 2017.

Instead, the district will work with Twin Cities-based Cuningham Group to focus on an all-encompassing long-range facilities plan.

“We really want a comprehensive plan,” Superintendent Lynne Kovash said. “We need to step back and look at our total district.”

Kovash said community input will be an important part of that process.

“We want the community to decide. We’re looking for people from the community to weigh in,” she said.

Kovash called the fifth- and sixth-grade building plan “just an example. It was just a possibility. That isn’t anything that we’re proposing at this time.”

Other parts of the plan OK’d last fall – studying space at the high school to see if programs can be moved there from the Sports Center, and exploring alternatives to leasing space for the Red River Area Learning Center, Adult Basic Education and other programs – will also be folded into the long-range plan, Kovash said.

Parts of the nine-point template approved by the School Board in November have been acted on.

The board, looking at projections that called for 680 more students in five years, voted for additions to three elementary schools:

  • A $2.4 million addition to Robert Asp Elementary School, including a classroom, a resource room, a gymnasium and a family bathroom. It will be finished this fall.
  • A $4.7 million addition to the Probstfield Center for Education, including eight classrooms, two resources rooms, a gymnasium and other improvements. It will be finished this fall.
  • Construction of an addition to S.G. Reinertson Elementary School is planned to start next spring and be completed in time for classes to start in fall 2015. It would cost $2.2 million to $2.5 million.

The Reinertson project, if it goes ahead, will add a gym and other instructional spaces.

The School Board also voted to replace the Moorhead High School track and install an artificial turf field. The $1.5 million project is to be finished by the time school opens after Labor Day.

Kovash said that in 2000, the Moorhead School District had buildings for grades K-4, 5-6, 7-8 and the 9-12 high school. At that time, there were worries about students having too many school transitions, she said.

While a couple of district elementary schools are K-5 buildings, Moorhead effectively now has a kindergarten center, with Probstfield taking in many of the district’s kindergartners, Kovash said.

Students then go on to elementary school through grade five, middle school grades six to eight and the high school. So, once again, students have several transitions, she said.

The idea of creating a building for grades five and six came from former Assistant Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak, district spokeswoman Pam Gibb said.

It was meant to free up space at the elementary schools and provide more room at the middle school, Gibb said.

Kovash said the district is interested in buying land in the south or southeast part of the city for a future school, but it has nothing specific in mind at this time.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including education, Fargo city government, business and military affairs. He is currently The Forum's K-12 education reporter.

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