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WFHS parking lot could get facelift

Construction seems to be an ongoing topic for West Fargo Public Schools, and after Monday's meeting of the school board, there may be more of it in the near future.

The board unanimously approved action to allow Moore Engineering to begin preliminary construction estimates to fix and improve the West Fargo High School parking lot.

"It's been on our radar for a while," WFPS business manager Mark Lemer said.

Cost for the preliminary work, which would involve conducting a topographic survey, is expected to be $11,500.

At the moment, the school district is planning to foot the bill. But because WFPS shares the lot with the West Fargo Park District, they also are hoping to share the cost.

This will not be easy for the park distinct, Lemer said, because of their limited budget.

"It definitely puts a strain on them," he said.

Another option would be to make it a special assessment project through the city of West Fargo, Lemer said.

All of these options will be discussed as the school district meets with the park district and the city in the upcoming weeks.

Final cost of the proposed construction projects depends on what results come back from the survey.

"They're going to have to walk that entire parking lot and figure out the condition of every square foot of asphalt," Lemer said.

Taxable valuation increases significantly reduced

Taxable valuation in the West Fargo school district has "seen significant reductions in yearly increases," Lemer said.

This school year, the district saw a 4.9 percent increase in taxable valuation from the past year, or an increase from $169 million to $177.5 million. This is up slightly from 4.2 percent in the 2010-11 school year, but shows an overall decline compared with the recent history of the district, Lemer said.

From the turn of the new millennium, the district has averaged double-digit increases every year, thanks in large part to the substantial development of West Fargo. The largest jumps occurred in 2005-06 and 2006-07, which boasted 15 percent and 16 percent increases.

But these sort of leaps in value likely will become more of an anomaly in the future, Lemer said, who pointed to the Eagle Run development coming online as the reason for one of the big bumps in valuation.

"There's going to come a point when there's no more land to be developed," he said.

Lemer did note that as the land surrounding Veterans Boulevard south of Interstate 95 gets developed, the WFPS will see high increases in taxable valuation.