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Public Report: Architects, construction manager announce goal of opening both schools in 2017

January 20, 2016

The goal is to have both the grades 5-6 school at Horizon Middle School and the K-4 elementary school open by fall of 2017, architects from Zerr Berg Architects and Steve Gehrtz from Gerhtz Construction Services told the Moorhead School Board during their update at the Jan. 11 board meeting.

The construction team has been meeting with the City of Moorhead regarding the 17-acre plot for the elementary school southeast of Horizon. In December, the district finalized the land purchase, and the land plot was approved by the City Council at its first meeting in January.

Design development for the K-4 elementary is continuing with the bidding process scheduled to begin about a month behind the first bid packages for the grades 5-6 school, said Brian Berg, architect with Zerr Berg Architects. The goal is to break ground on both projects this spring.

The space program for the elementary school remains similar with active learning labs at the end of each learning community and a shared area for outdoor learning. The location of the locker bays is being discussed further, and natural light needs to be incorporated for central classrooms and support services areas.

According to Tim Zerr, architect with Zerr Berg Architects, more design development information gathering sessions have been held about the grades 5-6 school with a few follow-up sessions still planned. The grades 5-6 school is about 7,100 square feet above the original plan, but creating some efficiency in the layout of the building will help absorb some of the additional square footage.

Since the plans were last shared with the board, the playground has been made more visible to the neighborhood and plans are more developed for the tennis courts, baseball field and softball fields. The track remains where it is, but the shot put, pole vault and discus throwing areas are relocated. A large green space close to the building will be used for physical education and recess.

Estimates from the architects, which are focused on square footage, place the building about $250,000 over the original budget amount. However the construction management firm has begun breaking down the project into the tons of concrete, feet of steel, yards of carpet and other materials needed. Gerhtz said although plans are still in the design development stage his estimates of probable cost put the building at just under $38 million. With fees, contingency costs and furnishings/fixtures the project in early estimates is at $44.3 million, which is about $300,000 below the referendum estimates. Gerhtz said he will do another estimate once plans are through design development.

Estimates include terrazzo floor for the corridors and common areas, which provides the best buy for the long-term life of the school, and some repair to the track. The tennis courts are currently considered an alternate for bidding. Brandon Lunak, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, said a grant is being pursued to offset the cost of the tennis courts.

Gerhtz said they hope to have the first set of bid documents for the grades 5-6 school completed for bidding by the end of March. This would include footings and foundation work scheduled to begin in April. They are anticipating a competitive bid climate and have already made some contacts.

A temporary road will be needed to separate construction traffic from existing traffic to Horizon.

“Safety is the number one concern,” Gerhtz said.

Photo cutline:

During the Jan. 11 School Board meeting, Brian Berg and Tim Zerr of Zerr Berg Architects provide updates on design development for the grades 5-6 school and the K-4 elementary school.

Categorized under: School