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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 26 2013

2014-15 school year will start later in Fargo

FARGO – The 2014-15 school year will start a week later than originally planned for the Fargo School District. But that extra week of summer vacation comes at the expense of the annual winter break.

Fargo School Board members voted 9-0 Tuesday to approve the new calendar, which starts school Aug. 27 and ends classes May 28.

The board sent the original draft of the 2014-15 calendar back to a special committee earlier this year after a late-August heat wave forced six elementary schools without air conditioning to close for several school days.

The original Aug. 20 starting date for 2014-15 may have counted on cooler weather, something several board members said they were loath to do.

To make up the five days lost at the start of the school year, the calendar committee opted to take away a break March 2-6 formed by a teachers’ professional development day and four days without classes, and turn them into a full school week.

Paralleling the work on changing the calendar, the board decided to upgrade the air-handling systems of the schools without air conditioning.

The board directed staff to work with an engineering firm to study the costs and timelines for installing air conditioning in McKinley, Roosevelt, Horace Mann, Clara Barton, Madison and Lewis and Clark elementary schools.

The board was offered two sets of estimates for the projects Monday.

The estimate by consultant Obermiller, Nelson Engineering for installing air conditioning in the schools has an estimated $11.4 million price tag.

The second proposal calls for doing the air conditioning work and replacing the buildings’ old boilers with high-efficiency boilers. It carries a price tag of $12.4 million. Representatives from ONE said the plan would save money over the current replacement plan and in energy costs.

But the board tabled a motion to move ahead with planning on the six projects. Paul Meyers asked administrators to try to negotiate a better deal on design and construction administration fees, pegged at 10 percent of the estimated costs.

Board member John Strand said he wanted the plan to go back to the planning committee for a recommendation on how the projects would be funded.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to hire Gehrtz Construction Services of Fargo as construction manager of a new elementary school planned for Ed Clapp Park.

Business Manager Broc Lietz said administrators are meeting weekly with leaders from the city, park district and Bethel Church to draft needed agreements and plan details needed for construction.

Construction on the project is expected to start this spring with opening planned for fall 2015.

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