After bids came in just under the architect's estimated, the West Fargo School District will move forward with building new elementary school in the Deer Creek subdivision of Fargo.
The board approved construction bids for $11.89 million at a school board meeting on Monday, April 9.
In November, the school board dedicated a portion of its building fund to be used for the construction of the new elementary school as long as bids came in under about $11.9 million. The district will also use about $3 million left over from the 2015 building bond referendum to cover the costs of designing, constructing and furnishing the school.
The school will be the 15th elementary school in the district, designed by YHR Partners. The school will be built on land the district owns near 52nd Avenue South, west of Veterans Boulevard in Fargo just north of the Deer Creek subdivision.
The building is projected to be 84,000 square feet, which is 7,000 more than other schools in the district.
West Fargo Public Schools business manager Mark Lemer said the school should be usable by the fall of 2019 and could house some sixth graders if needed.
The school board approved alterations to the building proposal and turned down others to hit the initial projected budget for the construction. Lemer acknowledged that there was little flexibility in the budget for this building.
"We breathed a huge sigh of relief," Lemer said of making the budget.
Lemer said the school district was feeling pressure in the Osgood neighborhood because of an increasing number of children.
"We're going to be looking for space to continue a middle school solution," Lemer said. "We're bringing in larger classes than we're graduating out. We're going to be looking for some kind of relief."
Voters overwhelmingly approved a $98.1 million bond referendum in November 2015 to build a new aquatic center, a hockey arena, a transportation center, a central kitchen and two elementary schools: one north of Interstate 94 and one in Brooks Harbor south of I-94.
Superintendent David Flowers said the bond was proposed with a vision of building an elementary school at this location but this was quicker than initially expected. While the newest northside elementary school, Willow Park, will open in 2019, rapid growth is expected to continue south of I-94.
"Now it's here," Flowers said. "We were going to be asking voters for this anyway. We just needed it earlier."
In October, Flowers formed a community committee that will examine how to deal with expected overcrowding in the middle and high schools, which could include asking voters to pass another bond referendum to build more facilities. He said building an elementary school with existing funds could take extra pressure off voters who may be asked to approve building a new middle school and high school soon.
"It all goes back to enrollment," Flowers said, "and where you put the children."