What Moorhead school district voters need to know about $110 million bond vote set for Nov. 5

Moorhead High School is seen Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

MOORHEAD — Residents in the Moorhead school district will head to the polls on Nov. 5 to vote on a $110 million bond that, if approved, would pay for a new high school and renovation of the former Sam's Club building into a career academy.

Is the project needed?

School officials say the answer to that question is yes and the reasons are many , with one factor being the frequent changes in floor levels students encounter in the existing school that was built in the 1960s, an issue particularly difficult for students with wheelchairs, officials say.

Angela Doll, assistant principal at the high school, has said watching students with disabilities navigate crowded hallways and lunch times can be "a little heartbreaking. Because they’re different already and now they’re more different."


Another significant need, officials say, is space.

This year’s senior class, expected to number about 450, will be the smallest graduating class for some time, as up-and-coming classes are expected to be much larger.

This year’s fourth-grade class, for example, numbers about 608.

The high school now has about 1,860 students in grades 9-12, which puts it at just over its capacity of 1,800.

Referendum dollars would be used to tear down much of the original building and replace it with a new high school that would accommodate 2,200 to 2,400 students.

According to school officials, the issue isn't simply a lack of space in the current high school , it's also the type of space that currently exists. Officials point to the fact many classrooms are below ground and have no windows, something that can affect the mental well-being of students and teachers alike, according to school staff.

Career academy

A big part of the proposed project is a renovation of a building that once housed a Sam's Club, which the school district purchased with an eye toward creating a career academy to give students more options when planning for post-graduation careers.


If a career academy moves forward, the 143,000 square feet of space provided by the former big box store would also help ease space issues at the high school, officials say.

The bond referendum is endorsed by the Moorhead Business Association, which has said addressing local workforce needs is an economic imperative.

In a letter explaining its endorsement, the MBA said the school district is working with the business community, higher education and vocational institutions to provide training that will help satisfy workforce needs.

Tax implications

According to school district numbers, an approved bond issue would mean annual taxes on a home valued at $200,000 would rise by about $93.

For a home valued at $150,000 annual taxes would rise by about $65, while annual taxes would increase by about $150 for a home valued at $300,000, according to the district.

If bond issue doesn't pass?

School officials say if the bond issue isn't approved the high school will continue to operate as it has, though problem areas will go unaddressed.

“You just can’t fix the accessibility issues in there,” Superintendent Brandon Lunak said previously.

Overcrowding from enrollment growth would also go unaddressed and costs would rise for upkeep of the current high school's aging heating and cooling system, officials said.


They also point out that if space needs are addressed by a future project, it would likely mean higher construction and interest costs.

article4741764.ece Poll: Do you support the $110 million bond proposal for Moorhead school district to pay for a new high school and renovation of the former Moorhead Sam's Club building into a career academy? Do you support the $110 million bond proposal for the Moorhead school district to pay for a new high school and renovation of the former Moorhead Sam's Club building into a career academy? Yes No

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

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