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Taking a proactive approach: School District moves forward with construction projects

Construction wraps at Horace High School, first phases of construction on new elementary begins

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Horace High School is almost finished. File photo

WEST FARGO —After mounting the construction challenges posed by West Fargo’s Horace High School earlier this year caused a delay in the school opening this fall, West Fargo School officials aren’t taking any chances they prepare to start accepting bids on what will be the district’s newest elementary school.

At the board's Monday, Jan. 10 meeting, the board approved starting the process of asking for seperate bids of steel costs as it prepares to request bids for what will be its newest elementary school.

"We wanted to be as proactive as we could," Business Manager Levi Bachmeier said.

One of the issues that caused a delay in the finishing of construction at Horace High School was the global supply chain problems that have seen materials delayed around the world. Due to the ongoing supply issues, Bachmeier said the district wanted to place bids for structural materials that will be needed for the elementary school that will be built in Fargo's Rocking Horse Farm neighborhood.

The preemptive move comes just two weeks before the School Board will vote at its Jan. 24 meeting to begin the construction bidding process for the school.

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In November, the board voted to buy 10 acres for about $3.05 million in the the Rocking Horse Farm area in Fargo, west of Veterans Boulevard and north of 51st Avenue South. The land will accommodate a three-section elementary school with staff parking and a bus loop, as well as playground facilities to serve up to 480 students.

The final price of building the school could be up to $21 million. The district still has a balance of $4.4 million in remaining general obligation bonds after the 2018 bond referendum that can be used for buying the land. Bachmeier said the school district could use some of its $11.3 million of ESSER Dollars, or a $6 million limited tax bond from the building fund. Currently, the district is budgeting about 36% of its building fund for debt repayment.

In the meantime, construction is winding down at Horace High School. The school opened to students in October, about a month later than the district had hoped.

"We experienced some pretty significant delays from the onset that we were never really resolved," Bachmeier said. " But they've oved along at a pretty consistent pace since then."

Crews continue to work on the school, but they have moved on to the final stages of completing the music and drama areas. The district historically finishes those school areas last by design.

"We traditionally do a phasing plan for our secondary buildings," Bachmeier said. "They finish the key academic areas and then athletics then music. and theater."

The gymnasium is currently available for use but there is limited occupancy inside.

Construction inside the high school is expected to wrap up by early spring, just in time for work to begin on the new elementary school. The elementary school will open by fall 2023.

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