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West Fargo moves forward with new elementary school project

WEST FARGO - School Board members here got their first look Monday at what will be the district's 13th elementary school, built as part of a $98.1 million bond referendum passed in November.

YHR Partners has designed West Fargo’s 13th elementary school to be large enough to hold three classrooms for each grade, kindergarten through five.

WEST FARGO – School Board members here got their first look Monday at what will be the district's 13th elementary school, built as part of a $98.1 million bond referendum passed in November.

YHR Partners of Moorhead designed a single-story elementary school to be located in the Brooks Harbor area near 22nd Avenue West and Sheyenne Street. It will be large enough to hold three classrooms of each grade kindergarten through grade five, with an estimated price tag of $13.75 million.

The West Fargo School Board unanimously approved sending the project for bids by the end of this month.

The school was one of more than a dozen projects included in the $98.1 million bond referendum approved by voters on Nov. 17. The district bought 10.97 acres in the Brooks Harbor area for about $38,000 an acre in September.

After this elementary school is finished in 2017, the district plans to start on another $15.4 million elementary school for the "north side." Although the second elementary will serve students living north of Interstate 94, officials recently conceded it may have to be built south of the interstate if affordable land can't be found elsewhere.


Julie Rokke of YHR Partners said Monday that her firm tried to give the Brooks Harbor school a "different look" than other West Fargo elementary schools.

YHR has designed seven other West Fargo Schools and been involved in nine school renovation projects. The only West Fargo School YHR has not been involved in is Liberty Middle School, said Business Manager Mark Lemer.

"So, the challenge was to make it look different," Rokke said.

The building will face north and west, with space left on the south side to add a future pod of classrooms if needed.

Inside, a commons area with media rooms will be flanked by two pods of classrooms. The northside pod will have classrooms for kindergarten through second grade. Classrooms for grades three through five will be on the other side of the common areas.

School Board member Dave Olson asked if the core areas - such as the gym, kitchen and common area - are big enough if the district adds on at a later date. Rokke said it is designed to handle expansion.

The site plan is laid out with a bus loop off of Ninth Street and parent parking off 22nd Avenue West. Moore Engineering, the city's engineering firm, plans to put a roundabout on the northwest side of the school to help ease traffic in and out of the area, Rokke said. She said the primary colors used inside the school will be muted royal blue and orange, which are Sheyenne High School colors.

The parking lot will be concrete, which was more cost-effective due to grading needs, Rokke said.


Bids will be opened Feb. 16 and construction can start shortly after that. Rokke expects bids to come in under the projected $13.75 million estimate.

"Based on what we gave you for the bond referendum, we're about $400,00 under that number, so we're feeling confident that we will be under budget," she said.

The board plans to authorize bids for a new aquatic facility at its Jan. 25 meeting. Lemer said the aquatic facility bids will not be opened until April.

This spring, the district will also bid remodeling projects at West Fargo High School and expects to start bids for a two-sheet ice facility in the fall.

As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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