Moorhead Area Public Schools received approval last month from the Minnesota Department of Education for three proposed construction projects.
In November 2013, the School Board approved nine facilities recommendations, including a new track and artificial turf at Moorhead High School and additions to Robert Asp Elementary and Probstfield Center for Education, with construction to begin in the spring of 2014 for all projects.
The positive review and comment from the Commissioner of Education for the Moorhead High, Robert Asp and Probstfield projects judges the proposed construction projects to be educationally and economically advisable. The Moorhead School Board accepted the review and comment statement at the Feb. 24 meeting.
Although estimated costs for the projects have risen slightly since November, the impact on taxpayers will be offset because the Moorhead School Board refinanced some of the district’s long-term debt in January to save approximately $3.8 million in interest payments over seven years.
Replacing the track and installing an artificial turf field at Moorhead High School was originally estimated to be $1.54 million. This was later adjusted to $1.87 million. However, at the March 10 board meeting, the School Board accepted the bids for the project with costs coming in more than $200,000 below earlier estimates. Work is scheduled to begin this spring with a goal of having the new field ready for the Spuds to play football on in the fall, said Jeremy Larson, interim assistant superintendent.
The 11,000-square-foot Robert Asp addition is estimated to cost $2.3 million, which will be paid using the lease levy, and will address a critical shortage of physical education space at Robert Asp Elementary and provide for more equitable elementary school facilities.
The Probstfield Center 20,100-square-foot addition will include eight classrooms and a gymnasium to address the need for elementary classrooms beginning with the 2014-15 school year and gymnasium space issues. It will cost approximately $4.3 million and will be paid for using the district’s lease levy and existing district funds. Costs will rise for this project because another 1,000 square feet of space is needed, Larson said.
Using lease levy financing of about $5 million to pay for part of the Probstfield and Robert Asp additions will have an estimated tax impact of $27 per year on a $200,000 home. The district’s payments would be approximately $439,000 a year, Larson said.
However, the district’s refunding of its long-term debt will reduce payments on the bonds by an average of $550,000 per year for fiscal years 2016 through 2022, which reduces the district’s property tax levies.