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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 11 2013

Moorhead schools prepare for big increase in enrollment

MOORHEAD – The Moorhead School Board will be asked tonight to approve an ambitious set of construction plans that are designed to help the district handle more than 680 additional students in the next five years.

“We hope that it will set up the district to deal with the short-term classroom space issues, and lay the groundwork for addressing the long-term needs that will be upon us relatively soon,” Assistant Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak said Monday.

Recommendations in a memo from Kazmierczak include:

E A $2.2 million 11,000-square-foot addition to Robert Asp Elementary School, with construction to start in spring 2014.

E A $2.2 million to $2.5 million 11,000-square-foot addition to S.G. Reinertson Elementary School, with construction to start in spring 2015.

The Robert Asp and Reinertson projects will focus on adding gymnasium space and other educational needs.

E A $4.3 million 20,100-square-foot addition to the Probstfield Center for Education, with construction to start in spring 2014.

The center would get another eight classrooms and a gymnasium.

Those classrooms would provide the district with the space it needs for the next two to three years, Kazmierczak said.

“Ultimately, there will be a need for a new building” in the district, he said.

E Replacing the Moorhead High School track and installing an artificial turf field. Construction on the $1.54 million project would start in spring 2014.

The district would also:

E Explore the feasibility of buying another parcel of land in the next two years for a school site.

E Explore the feasibility of building a school for grades five and six on the Horizon Middle School site, and converting the district’s elementary schools to kindergarten through fourth-grade schools.

Funding for the new school would require voter approval between 2015 and 2017, with a possibility of opening in fall 2019.

The concept of building a grades five and six school connected to Horizon but still a separate school is aimed at reducing the number of transitions for students as they move through their academic careers, Kazmierczak said.

If enrollment growth outpaces projections, building another K-4 school will have to be considered, the memo said.

E Convene an ad hoc group to study the high school to determine if space there can hold programs now in the Sports Center.

E Explore alternatives to the district’s current leased space arrangements for the Red River Area Learning Center, Adult Basic Education and other programs.

E Create a task force to develop a long-range facilities plan for the district.

The Moorhead School District saw enrollment rise 92 students this year to 5,648 students, district figures show.

District projections call for increases of 156 in 2014-15, followed by 148 in 2015-16, 129 in 2016-17, 105 in 2017-18 and 143 in 2018-19, bringing kindergarten through 12th-grade enrollment to 6,331.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583