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Local schools see construction boom

There's a $100 million building boom going on in local school districts. The West Fargo and Moorhead school districts are in the middle of major construction projects, and the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton district is just finishing a big building program.

There's a $100 million building boom going on in local school districts.

The West Fargo and Moorhead school districts are in the middle of major construction projects, and the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton district is just finishing a big building program.

The combined cost of the projects is more than $100 million.

The Fargo School District is thinking construction, too. The School Board this spring approved a long-term building plan that will influence when new Fargo public schools are built, and existing ones renovated, for the next decade.

Here's a closer look at what's happening in the four districts:

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Moorhead's $64 million project began in 2002 and should be completed in 2004.

Work includes:

E Building a new $27.8 million middle school near Meadows Golf Course.

E Building a new $11.7 million elementary school near Eighth Street and 40th Avenue South.

E Renovating and adding ninth grade to Moorhead Senior High, at a cost of $13.1 million.

E Converting Robert Asp School and Moorhead Junior High into K-5 elementary schools. Remodeling will cost $5.3 million at Robert Asp and $4.8 million at the junior high.

E Converting Probstfield Elementary School into a district education center at a cost of $1.9 million.

Most of Moorhead's existing school buildings are about 50 years old and are ill-suited to modern needs, school officials say. West Fargo overwhelmingly approved a $31 million bond issue in 2002.

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The money will go for a new

$22 million middle school at 825 17th Ave. E. and to renovate and expand all six elementary schools.

The middle school is expected to open for the 2004-05 school year, despite frequent rain-related construction delays this summer.

"Rain, rain, rain is the name of the game," Superintendent Chuck Cheney said of the delays.

West Fargo schools need more space because of rising enrollment. The district expects to add about 100 students in each of the next five years. If the district is right, it will have about 5,750 students in 2007 -- about 1,000 more than in 1997 and about 5,000 more than in 1956.

Much of the anticipated increase is expected to come from residential growth south of Interstate 94. That's why the West Fargo district is buying land for two new elementary schools south of Interstate 94.

One site is in the Eagle Run development, west of the Sheyenne River and along Cass County Highway 17.

The other is in the Osgood Development, east of the Sheyenne and south of 32nd Avenue in Fargo. Though in Fargo city limits, the site is in the West Fargo School District.

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The district has no immediate plans to build at the two sites but will do so when appropriate, officials say.

In 2001, voters in Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton School District agreed to spend $6.5 million to improve their academic and athletic facilities.

The work, which was finished this summer, included new classrooms, more music space, a media center and band and choir rooms.

Superintendent Bernie Lipp said Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton schools combine the best aspects of small and big school districts.

"I think people will be impressed when they see what we offer," he said.

Fargo's long-range building plan is tied to the district's new configuration model, approved in the spring of 2003.

Schools in north and south Fargo currently have different grade groupings, or configurations.

The new model calls for a single districtwide configuration of kindergarten through grade 5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. Fargo North and South high schools don't have ninth- graders now.

The configuration won't be implemented immediately, but rather will be a goal the district strives to reach over many years with the help of the long-range building plan, school officials say.

The plan, which district officials say will be revised as necessary, calls for establishing a third high school in south Fargo in 2012.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530

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