District’s opening day enrollment tops 7,000 students
September 3, 2019
Moorhead Area Public Schools had 7,066 students in grades K-12 report for school Sept. 3, 2019, which is the highest opening day enrollment since 1972 and continues the recent trend of high enrollment, said Superintendent Brandon Lunak.
This is 79 students more than last year’s opening enrollment. The number of students in the district will fluctuate over the next few weeks before stabilizing in October and November, according to historical trends.
Over the past five years, the district has added more than 1,000 students. In 2017, the district opened two new schools, Dorothy Dodds Elementary School for grades K-4 and Horizon Middle School West Campus for grades 5-6.
“Of significance this year is that just two years after two new schools opened, our K-4 elementary schools have reached capacity,” Lunak said. “We have additional capacity for elementary students within the classroom sections at each of the four schools, but we have reached capacity for adding classroom sections.”
Grade 4 is the largest grade level with 622 students. The incoming kindergarten class is the second largest grade level with 594 students. Grade 2 is a close third with 576 students. At 490 students, grade 9 is the smallest grade level in the district.
Elementary school capacity is being addressed with existing buildings. Renovation and expansion of the former Muscatell building on 30th Avenue South will create a district operations center 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 the existing buildings and save the district approximately $21 million because a fifth elementary school identified in the Facilities Master Plan will not be needed. The project will be paid for using existing district funds over three years, including proceeds from the sale of the former transportation building.
High school capacity constraints are being addressed by a $110 million bond referendum, on which the community will vote Nov. 5. The referendum includes rebuilding Moorhead High School on the existing site and renovating the former Sam’s Club building as a career academy. If voters approve the school funding request, taxes would increase on an average-priced $200,000 home by approximately $8 per month.
“With our continued growth, it is important to look to the future,” Lunak said. “This referendum is based on work completed by community task force groups over several years and will address facility needs for grades 9-12 as our district moves forward.”