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Plans for second referendum move forward

The West Fargo School Board's Planning and Development Committee met on Thursday, July 30, to discuss a second bond referendum, with a tentative date set for October 6. By eliminating the additions to Horace Elementary and the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center proposed in the first building proposal, the district could cut $11 million from the total cost of building projects being proposed by the district.

The recommendation presented to the committee calls for a special election asking voters to approve $39 million in bonds to build a new high school and a new elementary school.

In addition, the board would be asked to pass a $14 million building fund resolution for renovations and remodeling at the West Fargo High School; a new shared performing arts, library, and gymnasium facility at Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center; and physical education and athletic field improvements at Cheney Middle School, Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center, and at the high school.

Existing HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning) levies could be used for a portion of the remodeling at the high school to generate $1 million over a period of three years. The district is also studying options available for applying for funding through alternative sources.

However, the district wants to get input from the community before making any decisions. Surveys and a series of community input meetings are being planned to find out what residents want to see. Three meetings to discuss the adjusted school construction projects are scheduled. The first meeting will be held at Cheney Middle School on Tuesday, August 11, with a second meeting on Thursday, August 13 at the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center, and a third meeting scheduled on Monday, August 17 at the West Fargo High School. All meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m.

If the district decides to move forward with the October 6 date for the special election, the board would need to approve resolutions for the special election and building fund bond by August 17, in order to allow the required 60 day notice period for the election. Additional community informational meetings would be scheduled in September, to give residents additional information.

Some board members voiced concerns that October might be too soon to hold another election. Patti Stedman speculated that there might be a poor turnout for the meetings if they are held in August, when parents are busy getting ready for school.

"If we delayed the vote to, say, March, how much would it delay building?" asked Angela Korsmo.

"As it is now, we've already lost a year," Superintendent Dr. Dana Diesel Wallace answered.

It has been determined that with an October 6 date, it could be possible to have a new elementary school ready for students by December 2010.