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Flowers: Much has happened since November 2015

So much has happened since Nov. 17, 2015—just one year ago! On that date, voters overwhelmingly approved a $98.1 million referendum to address continued growth and other needs in West Fargo Public Schools. Since we have just passed that important anniversary, I thought it appropriate to give a one-year update on the projects authorized by the voters. Because of the number and extent of the projects, it was necessary to stage them over a three-year period. Following is a summary of the projects, their timeline and status.

Brooks Harbor—The district broke ground on the new school in the spring of 2016, and it is currently under construction. It is visible to the west of Sheyenne Street and south of the diversion. It will open in the fall of 2017, with Manix Zepeda as principal.

Hulbert Aquatic Center—The Aquatic Center is under construction on the south end of the existing pool at L.E. Berger Elementary, with phase I to be completed in the fall of 2017. The structure will house the actual Olympic Trials pool that was a temporary-install during the trials last spring in Omaha. Phase II will include renovating the existing pool area, to include a smaller lesson pool. The larger pool will be able to host large meets. Chad Day was hired as director to help oversee the construction and to plan the programming of this exciting new venue, which will be home to both the Packer and Mustang swim teams, as well as the local Flyers swim club.

Berger Elementary addition and renovation—One of the targets at the elementary level for use of the bond referendum dollars is to phase out the kindergarten centers (rather than build another one to serve our burgeoning kindergarten enrollment) and house kindergarten children in their neighborhood elementary schools. Classrooms were added to the east end of Berger Elementary, with construction beginning last spring and now complete. These classrooms will allow for a second phase of renovation to undersized classrooms in the existing building. The second phase will begin soon and will be completed in the fall of 2017.

Hockey Arena—Ground has been broken and the new two-sheet arena is under construction just northwest of the intersection of 32nd Avenue and Sheyenne. The arena will have capacity to house both Packer and Mustang hockey teams. The site is large enough to accommodate a potential third sheet of ice when necessary. Construction will be completed August 2017.

West Fargo High School renovations and aAdditions—A new auxiliary gymnasium is nearing completion at the northwest corner of West Fargo High School. A new classroom addition to the south of the high school is under construction and will be ready for students in the fall of 2017, as well as some internal classroom and office renovations, including expansion of the commons area and addition of an orchestra rehearsal space.

Horace Elementary—A five-classroom addition at Horace Elementary was completed this fall. This addition allowed Horace to house kindergartners, thus relieving overcrowding in other south side elementary schools as we await completion of Brooks Harbor Elementary School.

Projects not yet underway

New north side elementary—The site for a new north side elementary school has been purchased and architects are drawing up plans for the facility, which will be bid in the early spring with construction due to begin in the spring of 2017, and project completion for the opening of school in the fall of 2018. The new school will be located on the vacant lot just to the west of the Blue Cross Blue Shield building.

Osgood Kindergarten Center conversion—The center will be converted to a K-5 elementary building, with the first phase of construction beginning in the spring of 2017. Phase II will be completed in the fall of 2018.

Others—Other projects to be initiated in 2018-19 include additional music space at Cheney Middle School; renovation of spaces at the Lodoen Community Center; conversion of current transportation and maintenance complex for increased maintenance functions and creation of a central kitchen and nutrition service warehouse; standardizing and upgrading elementary playgrounds; and security measures.