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Lifelong Learning

Operations Center renovation begins with bids $2 million under estimates

May 14, 2019

The renovation and expansion to create a district operations center for Moorhead Area Public Schools began in earnest this month with demolition of a portion of the existing facility last week. Construction of additions will provide space for the district offices and a garage for district-owned school buses.

A facilities assessment conducted as part of the 2014-15 Facilities Master Plan deemed the district’s previous transportation building in poor condition. The former Muscatell building on 30th Avenue South was purchased in 2017 to provide space for the transportation, property service and food service departments at an operations center.

At a School Board special meeting in December 2018, the board reviewed plans to address elementary school capacity. The district’s four elementary schools have a capacity of 3,000 students. Current K-4 population as of November 2018 is 2,778 students with 2,465 in English classrooms and 313 in the Spanish Immersion Program, leaving space for about 55 students per elementary school.

Superintendent Brandon Lunak explained the plan to address elementary capacity by moving the Spanish Immersion Program to Probstfield Center for Education. Lunak said allowing the Ellen Hopkins Elementary attendance area to expand would take pressure off the three other elementary schools and would save the expense of building another elementary school. Details related to moving the Spanish Immersion Program have not yet been determined, Lunak said.

Plans to build a garage for school buses were modified to add additional square footage to relocate the district office to the operations center. In April, the board approved the construction bids, which came in more than $2 million under the estimate.

The $13.4 million project, which includes approximately $5 million for the district office, will be paid for using existing district funds over three years, including proceeds from the sale of the former transportation building. By creating additional capacity within existing buildings, Moorhead Area Public Schools saves approximately $21 million because the fifth elementary school identified in the Facilities Master Plan will not be needed.

Photo: Demolition of the front portion of the Moorhead Area Public Schools operations center was underway on May 6, as construction begins to build a bus garage and a district office addition.

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