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Lifelong Learning

High School Facilities Planning Process

With the completion of the first phase of the Facilities Master Plan, Moorhead Area Public Schools began the implementation process for the second phase of the plan, which called for reviewing recommendations related to high school facilities.

During 2014-15, the citizens and school district staff serving on the Facilities Master Planning Task Force worked through a collaborative community-driven facilities planning process for Moorhead Area Public Schools. This work led to the November 2015 bond referendum, which was approved by voters and provided Dorothy Dodds Elementary School, Horizon Middle School West Campus, and renovations and security upgrades at other district schools. Renovations at all three elementary schools improved safety, provided for classroom space to return kindergarten students to the elementary schools, and created flexible learning spaces.

Portrait of a Graduate Task Force

The second phase of the Facilities Master Plan focuses on space for grades 9-12 students, allowing for consideration of a new facility or a new addition to the existing facility. During the 2016-17 school year, a community task force began work on Designing Moorhead High School’s 21st Century Academic/Instructional Program.

In March 2018, the School Board accepted the Designing Moorhead High School’s 21st Century Academic/Instructional Program Task Force Report, which identifies the portrait of a graduate. The plan calls for implementing recommendations pertaining to the academic and instruction program, portrait of a graduate, and facilities, including forming a community task force for 2018-19 to consider facility needs.

High School Facilities Task Force

The facilities task force was formed in August 2018 with representatives of stakeholders in the district, including community members, high school students, School Board members, and district and school employees. The task force was charged with reviewing the 2015 Facilities Master Plan and 2018 Portrait of a Graduate/Designing Moorhead High report to provide the School Board with recommendations concerning the district’s high school facilities.

The district’s K-8 enrollment has increased by more than 850 students over the past five years. Based on enrollment projections, capacity is needed to accommodate additional high school students. Work done last year by the Designing Moorhead High School’s 21st Century Academic/Instructional Program Task Force indicated lack of adequacy in the current facilities with a need for appropriate, flexible learning spaces for 21st century learning.

The task force reviewed details for these options:

  • New building on a new site for 2,400 students,
  • Building replacement on existing site for 2,400 students, and
  • Two sites (building replacement on existing site and new building on new site) for 1,200 students each.

Additionally, the task force identified the need for a career academy to provide additional opportunities for career exploration and technical skill development while helping to address shortages in the regional workforce in these areas. A separate off-site career academy was included in all three options.

The task force used the eight characteristics of the portrait of a graduate developed by previous task force, and task force members developed these design drivers:

  • Provide welcoming, engaging and fully accessible spaces throughout the school in an environment that supports connectivity and social interaction, reinforces positive behavior and identity, and enhances occupant safety and security.
  • Provide flexible, adaptable, versatile learning spaces that can support multiple modes of learning from traditional lecture to small group activities, active learning, collaboration and peer-to-peer learning.
  • Spaces must support personalized, student-centered learning within small learning communities (school within a school).
  • Provide access to natural light throughout with an appropriate level of transparency between common areas and circulation spaces to learning spaces.
  • Provide an entry that projects community and school pride.
  • Provide spaces that support and enhance the eight characteristics in the Portrait of a Moorhead Graduate.
  • Make building systems and finish decisions that support durability, sustainability and operational efficiency.

The High School Facilities Task Force recommended replacing Moorhead High School on the existing site at a School Board special meeting Jan. 31, and the board accepted the recommendation at the Feb. 11 meeting. The task force recommendation included an off-site career and technical center. Read the High School Facilities Task Force Report.

Conceptual Design Task Force

In February 2019, the Conceptual Design Task Force was formed with more than 50 members representing administration, community, teachers, students and staff. From March to May, this task force reviewed conceptual design details for replacing Moorhead High School.

The task force considered design drivers identified by the facilities task force that support and enhance the Portrait of a Graduate. Other considerations by the Conceptual Design Task Force were building exposure/orientation, approach, parking and entry, event parking and entry, how the building can engage the community, opportunities to show school pride, and other site considerations, constraints or barriers.

An earlier conceptual design had three longer three-story academic wings to the north of the site. After task force discussion, the design changed to four shorter academic wings to reduce longer hallways and travel distance between classrooms.

The plan includes a large commons area, four three-story academic wings to the north, music and visual arts spaces near the theater on the southwest corner, and the pool located south of the Sports Center. Administration, gymnasium, existing fieldhouse, and locker rooms are adjacent to the commons on the east.

Construction of the high school would be done in two phases allowing students to attend Moorhead High while new academic space is built to the north of the existing school. Most of the current school would be removed following completion of the first phase of construction. This will eliminate the lack of light, split-level configuration and circulation issues found in the current high school.

The Conceptual Design Task Force members reviewed the revised conceptual design for rebuilding Moorhead High School at a joint meeting with the Facilities Task Force members on May 1, 2019.

During the joint task force meeting in May, the career academy pathways and opportunities for partnership with local businesses were discussed. Berg said the seven broad pathways (health/human services, farm to table, transportation, business/entrepreneurship, information technology, design thinking, and maker trades) have multiple subcategories to provide opportunities to connect students with the business community to prepare for careers in the future.

The plans for replacing Moorhead High School on the existing site moved forward with School Board approval of the conceptual design on May 28.