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Helmut Schmidt, Published July 29 2012

West Fargo school projects on schedule

WEST FARGO – Opening Freedom Elementary this fall shouldn’t be a sweat – hot weather not withstanding, West Fargo School District officials say.

Furniture is being moved in, library shelves are going up, and contractors are finishing work on the school’s systems, Business Manager Mark Lemer said.

“The winter, obviously, worked in favor of construction, but our contractors have done an excellent job as well,” Lemer said.

Buildings and grounds Director Pete Diemert said Freedom Elementary, at 401 26th Ave. E., should get its certificate of occupancy by Aug. 10, perhaps sooner.

School gets under way for grades 1-12 on Aug. 23. Kindergarten begins Aug. 27.

Another big project, reconstruction of the high school and Veterans Memorial Arena parking lots, will also be finished well ahead of the start of school, Diemert said.

All the concrete has been poured, he said. Now, it’s down to waiting for the concrete to cure, sealing the surface and striping.

Two other major building projects, Liberty Middle School and the academic addition to create a high school from Sheyenne 9th Grade Center, also appear to be on schedule, Diemert said.

“The weather has been cooperative. We’ve been erecting steel, and they’ve been working in there,” Diemert said of the addition to Sheyenne at 40th Avenue South and Veterans Boulevard.

A mild winter and spring, and the relatively dry summer, have given crews time to pour all of the cement for foundations and parking lots.

Structural steel and walls are going up and pouring of floor slabs should start soon, Diemert said.

Lemer said architects are working with staff on the final planning for the high school gymnasium and fine arts additions to Sheyenne. Construction on those additions is expected to begin next spring.

The Freedom, Liberty and Sheyenne additions are all part of $82.5 million in construction bonding approved by voters in 2011.

So far, the school district has taken in $74.5 million from selling bonds for the schools, which includes premiums paid by the buyers and interest.

Of that, $72.9 million has been spent or allocated, Lemer said. That leaves $1.65 million in unobligated funds that can go to other projects, he said.

Here are the projected costs for the projects:

• Freedom Elementary, $10,416,680.

• Liberty Middle School, $31,286,177, though final figures will differ by the opening of school next fall.

• Phase I of the Sheyenne expansion, the academic addition, $13,495,503.

• Phase II of the Sheyenne expansion, gymnasium and fine arts additions, begins next spring. It’s budgeted at $12,088,500.

• Sheyenne site improvements, athletic fields, sewer, water, drainage, etc., $2,560,138.

• Ninth Grade Center for the current high school, $400,000.

• About $360,000 of the bond issue will buy 12 acres of land just east of the 9th Grade Center along 40th Avenue South. The site could be used for a future elementary school.

Lemer said $11.3 million in bonding authority has been held in reserve to build another elementary.

The bonding approved by voters allows a second elementary school to be built when student enrollment grows large enough.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583