West Fargo school officials get first look at designs for new elementary


WEST FARGO—The West Fargo School Board got its first look this week at what will be the district's 15th elementary school, a new school to be built near Blue Cross Blue Shield headquarters in Fargo.

Architect Julie Rokke with Moorhead-based YHR Partners presented the building design at a meeting Monday, Jan. 9, that will have two classrooms for each grade, kindergarten through five. The building will have three pods of classrooms with sets of two classes that have a shared doorway for grades to share space. The center core has a media center and room for music and art classes.

Each pod will have an extra room for an English Language Learners classroom.

"It's just a little unique for this project," Rokke said.

The school will have a parent drop-off on the south side, with a bus loop on the north side. The office will be right in the middle. An existing shed building will stay on the site, Rokke said.

A walking path will circle around the building, with about 350 trees planted along it with room for gardens. There are currently 175 boulevard trees that must stay, per Fargo city requirements, Rokke said.

"I really like the idea of incorporating garden areas," board member Kara Stack-Gravely said.

The school is planned as part of the $98.1 million bond passed in 2015. The school district bought the 11.83 acres of land from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota in 2016 for about $3.5 million. The land, which is just west of BCBS' headquarters at 4510 13th Ave. S. in Fargo, is now an empty grassy knoll surrounded by apartment buildings and retail stores.

"If you go to the site right now, there are mountains of snow because the city is using it for their snow removal," Rokke said.

The building will be large enough to eventually have four classes per grade to house about 550 students, but the capacity may be even larger due to the extra space built in for ELL.

"It may be 25 or 30 above that at the next capacity," Business Manager Mark Lemer said. "We haven't yet come to terms with it."

Rokke said she expects to wrap up the designs and put the estimated $13.5 million project to bid in the next few weeks.

"The bidding climate is extremely favorable right now," she said.

The school is expected to open by fall 2018.

In other board news, a naming process for the two-sheet ice hockey facility is ongoing. After the School Board's governance committee met in December, board members decided to give the West Fargo hockey facility more time to seek out potential corporate sponsors. Naming rights would cost at least $1 million.

"We'd like to give the community as a whole additional time to seek corporate sponsors," School Board member Shauna Vistad said. "If we don't receive some type of response to that, we'll look at this process and how to move forward."

After receiving just seven submissions, the West Fargo School Board decided Dec. 12 to go back to the drawing board before deciding what to name the $20 million ice hockey arena. The only names submitted were:

• West Fargo Tundra Arena Zone

• West Fargo Tundra Zone Arena

• Public School Arena

• Sheyenne Hockey Center

• Sheyenne Arena

• West Fargo Fro-Zone

• West Fargo Chill