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Moorhead looks to form task force to determine fate of high school

MOORHEAD —The district here is putting together a task force to determine the best approach to address an aging high school: build a new one or renovate and add on to the existing facility.

In the 2014-15 school year, a task force pushed to invest $78 million in new construction over the next decade. Voters in November 2015 approved investing $43.1 million for additions to Horizon Middle School and $24.9 million for a new elementary school, while the other three elementary schools got renovations to improve safety and increase flexible learning spaces.

In November 2019, the district will likely ask voters to approve a bond for the high school.

The previous task force made recommendations to build a new high school on a new site and renovate the existing high school into a different community facility, or add on to the high school by replacing the 1966 wing of the facility. The recommendations were made to address increasing enrollment and different learning needs.

During the 2012-13 school year, districtwide enrollment hovered around 5,555. Projections for the 2022-23 school year place enrollment at more than 7,500. At the high school, enrollment for the upcoming school year is about 1,975. By 2022-23, enrollment is expected to be 2,330.

On Monday, July 16, school board members approved task force meetings to start this fall to design framework for the high school facility. The group will look at the implications of a closed or open high school campus and focus on best high school design practices and community perception of the district and high school.

A preliminary plan with costs will be presented in January 2019 following meetings throughout the fall.

In February, a tax impact will be determined and the district will conduct a community survey.

By April, task force recommendations and survey results will be available.

Community members interested in serving on the task force will soon be able to find an application on the district's website. Applications will be due in August, when the district will also choose an architect firm and construction manager.

Also on Monday, the board approved a $100 raise for members. Those serving on the board will now receive $900. Since 2013, members have been paid $800.

On Tuesday, July 17, Moorhead's newly named assistant superintendent, Tamara Uselman, will take on the position vacated by Missy Eidsness, who left for a position with Fargo Public Schools.

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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