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Lifelong Learning

Strategic planning allows school district to address elementary capacity with Operations Center renovation

August 14, 2019

Walls for the bus garage addition at the district operation center were constructed this summer, while foundation work is being completed for the district office addition. The renovation and expansion of the former Muscatell building on 30th Avenue South will create a district operations center for Moorhead Area Public Schools and address space for elementary students.

Construction of the operations center, which came in more than $2 million under estimates, will create additional capacity for elementary students within existing buildings and save the district approximately $21 million because the fifth elementary school identified in the Facilities Master Plan will not be needed at this time based on current enrollment projections.

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.

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 was purchased in 2017 to provide space for the transportation, property service and food service departments at an operations center.

Plans to build a garage for district-owned school buses were modified last school year to add additional square footage to relocate the district office to the 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. The K-4 student population as of November 2018 was 2,778 students, leaving space for 222 students across the district.

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.

At the Aug. 12 School Board meeting, Lunak shared an enrollment update with board members. Projections for the 2019-20 school year are for 2,839 K-4 students. Three of the four elementary schools are at section capacity, which means all 30 classrooms in the schools are full, Lunak said. While individual classrooms may still have space for students, there is limited space to add a new classroom section.

Photo: Walls are constructed for the bus garage addition to the district operations center and foundation has been poured for the district office addition. The district operations center will serve the dual purpose of replacing the previous transportation building, deemed in poor condition in the 2014-15 facilities study, and creating space at Probstfield Center for Education to address elementary capacity.

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