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WFPS construction projects on schedule despite setbacks

With a myriad of construction projects taking place across the West Fargo School District this summer, the clock is ticking down to their completion deadlines.

By and large, most seem to be on track to finish in time, Business Manager Mark Lemer said Monday during a meeting of the West Fargo School Board. But the going hasn't been easy, mostly because of the wet weather witnessed by the area this summer.

Of all the building and remodeling projects taking place in West Fargo Public Schools, the one with the largest impact in most peoples' minds, Lemer said, is the classroom additions at the Osgood Kindergarten Center.

"This is the one everyone is the most concerned about, because the eight classrooms are there to alleviate overcrowding at Aurora," he said.

Of the classrooms being built, Lemer said contractors are confident the west-side four-room block should be completed by the Aug. 12 deadline. However, the classrooms to the north "likely won't be ready until the week that school starts," he said, which would give staff and faculty little to no time to prepare for students.

A big part for the delay has stemmed from rain received during building season, Lemer said.

"Rain has caused a lot of problems, and specifically at Osgood," he said. Builders have lost several days of work because of concrete work getting pushed back from the weather.

"Everything goes on top of the concrete, so when that gets delayed, everything gets delayed," Lemer said.

The high school also has its fair share of construction projects this summer, six by Lemer's count.

Terrazzo flooring is a tough, time-consuming, labor-intensive process, Lemer said, but everything is on track to be done by the week ending Aug. 14.

Carpet replacement is "essentially done," Lemer said, and the vinyl wall covering should begin this week.

The one hiccup has come from the remodeling of the food service area.

"It might be tougher to finish because of the amount of work that needs to be done," Lemer said.

School officials have advised architects to begin contingency planning in case work isn't complete by the time school begins.

"We might be serving food out of the bed of a pickup truck," Superintendent David Flowers said, with a laugh.

The next two weeks, officials will be monitoring the progress of the food services area, as well as all the projects across the district to be sure everything is coming along as planned.

"We're feeling confident," Lemer said.

STEM assistant principal named principal at Westside

Also Monday, the school board congratulated Tabatha Joyce for accepting the position as the next principal of Westside Elementary School.

Joyce has been an assistant principal at the STEM Center since it opened in the 2009-10 school year. Before that, she was a teacher at Westside Elementary for five years and a teacher at L.E. Berger Elementary for two years.

Joyce will immediately take over as principal. She replaces Beth Slette, who accepted a new position within the district as director of assessments and federal programs.