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Lifelong Learning

School Board approves conceptual design for replacing Moorhead High

June 11, 2019

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

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. The Moorhead School Board received an update on this work at the May 28 board meeting.

“The plan we’re going to put before you is really a collaborative effort,” said Brian Berg, Zerr Berg Architects.

Terry Quist and Jeff Olson, True North Consulting, reviewed the decision-making process with the board.

The first phase was the formation of the 39-member High School Facilities Task Force, which met seven times between September 2018 and January 2019 to address the capacity and adequacy of the high school. The School Board voted in February to accept the High School Facilities Task Force recommendation to replace Moorhead High School on the existing site with a career academy located on a separate site.

In February, 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.

“During that process, we went through many iterations of this plan and got positive feedback from the people who participated,” Berg said.

While the plan is still a work in progress, a well-defined concept is being presented for approval, Berg said. Still to be done is program verification, meetings with departments and staff, and continuing to build on what has been done.

“We needed to come up with a solution that allowed us to build the majority of this space without impacting that existing footprint,” Berg said in presenting the high school conceptual design.

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.

Private fundraising could add options to the site as future projects, Berg said.

Berg said the general circulation of the building works well. He also reviewed the site plan, including temporary parking during construction and new parking spaces.

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.

“Our team is excited to get working on the building program,” Berg said.

Several members of the Conceptual Design Task Force provided the board with details about the task force process.

Eric Stenehjem, who served on the task force as both a teacher and parent, spoke of the excitement, collaboration, and diversity of the group. He said it was exciting to watch the design evolve from the group discussions to the architect renderings.

Wes Darling, a parent who served on both task forces, said he was initially skeptical of a single high school and challenged the single high school concept. Through the design process and group discussions, his opinion has changed.

“I’m very excited for what we’re going to have,” he said.

Jon Larson, Moorhead High teacher, said moving the building north developed as the task force worked through the design process.

“What we’re looking at is a handicapped accessible building for all,” Larson said. “At our second meeting, we moved everything further north, and it works.”

The shift reduces the impact of construction on the operation of the current building.

“I’m excited about the fine arts area,” Larson said. “This will be the kind of thing that attracts people. For such an arts friendly area, this will be an outstanding building.”

The next part of the decision-making process will be a tracking survey in mid-June to judge community support for the project. The final step, as the board determines to move forward, would be the potential for holding a building bond referendum on Nov. 5, 2019.

Photo: Eric Stenehjem, Wes Darling and Jon Larson,  members of the Conceptual Design Task Force, provide the School Board with details about the task force process during the May 28 meeting.

Categorized under: School