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School board discusses next architect choice

The West Fargo School Board mulled over its options during regular meeting action Monday night for selecting an architect for the upcoming elementary school — which will be built during the 2014-2015 school year just south of 52nd Avenue — but elected not to make a decision yet. The district has had positive experiences with both YHR Partners — the architect of the last two elementary schools, along with the upcoming one on 54th Street — and Zerr Berg Architects, who designed Liberty Middle School. However, district officials fear utilizing the same firms repeatedly may lead to other local firms feeling “shut out” of West Fargo Public School projects too many times.

On the other hand, using one of the districts trusted firms could potentially lead to an expedited design, as a Request for Qualifications process would not be necessary.

The options presented to the board were to:

— Select YHR outright.

— Select Zerr Berg outright.

— invite both firms to present their qualifications, then go through a selection process.

— obtain proposals from the “broader architectural community,” which was the process chosen for the construction of Liberty Middle School. This process would take the longest, but would give all interested parties a chance to present a design.

Despite multiple options, the board members were in agreement that there was no reason not to trust the firms already working within the district.

“I believe that we have the two best school firms in the region working for us,” board member Karen Nitzkorski said. “I don’t want to have to go back out and look for another.”

While all members are pleased with Zerr Berg’s work at Liberty Middle School, the district’s close relationship with YHR will likely win out.

“Because of the ongoing positive relationship we have had with YHR, there are many instances where Pete (Diemert, district building and grounds director) can just pick up the phone and call someone at the firm, since they know our buildings so well,” superintendent David Flowers said.

The board hopes to accept bids for the project by February, and the school is set to be ready for the 2015-2016 school year.

In other action, the board:

— unanimously approved a consolidated application for Title I, II and III programs and authorized assistant superintendent of elementary curriculum and instruction Beth Slette as the district representative of these programs.

— approved a contract with YHR Partners for a roofing assessment on all buildings owned by the district.

YHR will conduct a condition survey of all buildings, and will note any problems or unusual aspects. They will then be able to offer preliminary estimates for roofs that should be replaced within the next three years.

YHR expects to be done with surveys within two weeks, with documentation lasting another two weeks.

— Approved a request to hire five additional special education paraprofessionals. These additions have been made necessary by the opening of Liberty Middle School, the expansion of Sheyenne High School and ever-increasing enrollment numbers.

“As we have taken registration in preparation of the new school year, we realized we do have a number of students needing one-on-one paraprofessional assistance,” human resources director Robin Hill said. “It is very difficult to foresee who will come and what exactly the level of their needs will be.”

Board member Angela Korsmo was not in attendance.