Moorhead School Board approves high school renovation, new career academy

Moorhead School Board votes unanimously on Feb. 11, 2019, to approve a plan to renovate the city's public high school and to build a new career academy. From left: Kara Gloe,  Keith Vogt, Matt Valan, Scott Steffes, Cassidy Bjorklund, Rachel Stone, Melissa Burgard. Photo by Austin Howard
Moorhead School Board votes unanimously on Feb. 11, 2019, to approve a plan to renovate the city's public high school and to build a new career academy. From left: Kara Gloe, Keith Vogt, Matt Valan, Scott Steffes, Cassidy Bjorklund, Rachel Stone, Melissa Burgard. Photo by Austin Howard

MOORHEAD — The Moorhead School Board has unanimously approved a plan to renovate the city's public high school and construct an off-site career and technical center.

After months of planning and discussion, the board voted 7-0 in favor of the measure at its meeting Monday night, Feb. 11. Renovating the current Moorhead High School campus is expected to cost a total of $93 million, while the career academy is expected to cost $13 million.

Moorhead Superintendent Brandon Lunak was satisfied with the plans and is glad to be moving forward with the option, though there's still much to be done.

"It feels good. I think right now that just pushes us in the next phase and for us that's the conceptual design phase," Lunak said, explaining that a team will go to Bismarck next week to explore designs from their schools.

Planned renovations would go through phases. The parking lot would be replaced first, followed by renovations to the academic area on the north side of the school. Ninth-grade facilities would be renovated last.

It's the least expensive of three options provided to the board by the the Moorhead Facilities Task Force. Constructing a new high school at a new site and the career academy would have cost an estimated $130 million. A third option that would have involved having two high school sites and an academy would have cost $168 million.

In a special school board meeting in January, Chair Scott Steffes leaned toward approving the renovation — which would take about two years.

"If we're going to keep one school, it's the best option for the district right now, instead of building on the new site," Steffes said in late January, explaining that it was the best decision financially.