Grand Forks School Board approves Icon as architect for proposed Valley Middle School

Board also approves $3.4 million for Schroeder school roof repair and courtyard project

Mark Sanford Center Grand Forks schools logo sign tower.jpg
The Mark Sanford Education Center, headquarters of Grand Forks Public Schools. (Grand Forks Herald photo)
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GRAND FORKS – The Grand Forks School Board approved the hiring of Icon Architects to create a rendering and design plan for the new Valley Middle School at its regular meeting Monday, May 23.

Taxpayers will be asked to vote in the special $55 million bond referendum election to build the new school. The election is set for Sept. 27.

The board also approved a $3.4 million project to repair the structural roof collapse at Schroeder Middle School and enclose the school’s courtyard with a new structure that expands the commons area, including a larger lunchroom, and creates a collaborative learning environment.

The action came after the board approved an emergency declaration for the courtyard infill project. The declaration allows the district to contract for architectural, structural engineering and/or contract work without seeking bids, and more quickly address the problem. Although an emergency declaration for the roof repair was approved at the board’s May 9 meeting, the district’s legal counsel recommended another declaration for the courtyard project, Superintendent Terry Brenner said.

Excessive snow and rain loads caused roof damage over the Family and Consumer Sciences lab, classroom and conference room at Schroeder Middle School. The roof must be replaced, Chris Arnold, GFPS director of buildings and grounds, has told the board. The damage was discovered April 25.


Arnold presented other options that called for the removal and replacement of the roof, at a cost of $549,894; a courtyard drainage project, estimated to cost $100,291; and an enclosed courtyard area project, estimated to cost $2.8 million.

On Monday, the board voted to approve the administration’s recommendation for a courtyard infill project that would provide a clear-story window area to allow natural light into the classrooms surrounding the courtyard and the new space, at an estimated cost of $3.4 million.

The project is a “very strong candidate” for insurance coverage, which would take pressure off the district’s budget, Arnold said.

A forensic firm, WJE Associates of Minneapolis, has been selected to provide structural and storm water analysis. Icon Architects, a Grand Forks firm, has been selected to provide architectural and design detail on the proposed project. Arnold expects their findings regarding the existing roof conditions throughout Schroeder Middle School will be available this summer.

A contractor, Pcl/Community, of Minneapolis, has been selected to provide construction analysis, costs and effort to repair the school, he said.

The areas affected by the roof damage are no longer in use.

Valley Middle School

If voters approve the $55 million referendum this fall, the new Valley Middle School would be built on the site occupied by the current school. The current school would be razed after construction on the new school is completed.

Icon Architects was selected from three firms that responded to the school district’s request for qualifications, or RFQs. The other firms were EAPC and Michael J. Burns Architects. All were interviewed by the district’s five-member Agency Selection Committee.


The board also voted to approve an estimated $200,000 project – to be paid for with Special Education ESSER funds – at Kelly Elementary School to remodel an existing multi-purpose room, storage room and hallway to better serve students with special needs.

The project would include building a new space for a smaller storage room, two intervention rooms, two new classrooms with sinks, and a sensory room.

The project would begin June 6 and conclude Aug. 12, Arnold said.

New principal at South

The School Board also approved the hiring of Travis Neil as principal of South Middle School, effective July 1, 2022. He replaces Joel Schleicher, who resigned to accept a position as a faculty member in the educational leadership program at UND.

Neil, who is associate principal at Century Elementary School, has prior experience teaching fifth and sixth grade in Washington state and in Grand Forks public schools. He earned his administrative credential through Minnesota State University Moorhead; a master’s degree in technology, curriculum and instruction from City University of Seattle; and a bachelor’s degree in education from UND.

Neil’s annual salary for the 2022-23 school year will be $112,539.

In other action, the board:

  • Voted to give special permission, as allowed by the teacher negotiated contract, to allow an external teacher candidate, Mary Ann Crow, to bring more years of teaching experience into the district to fill a hard-to-fill position, that of a German teacher at Central High School. Normally, there is a 11-year limit on the number of years of experience, except in special fields wherein qualified candidates are in demand. Crow, who brings 23 years of experience, will be appointed at a salary of $72,161.     
  • Approved the following appointments for: Community High School – Sara Tezel, English teacher, $51,812; a district position – Jaime Campos, adaptive physical education teacher, special education, $42,977; Grand Forks Central High School – Kaitlyn Allen, English teacher, $48,562; Casey Beck, interventions teacher, $43,774; and Scott Cantrell, School Within-A-School teacher, $47,822; Kelly Elementary School – Jonathan Mayo, vocal music teacher, $47,765; Red River High School – Isaac Preble, special education teacher, $42,977; Twining Elementary School – Brooke Hickerson, first grade teacher, $42,977; and Valley Middle School – Christopher Peterson, innovations teacher, $54,206;
  • Approved the resignations of the following, at: Century Elementary School – Kristin Kopff, fourth grade teacher; Lake Agassiz Elementary School – Dana Boucher, first grade teacher, and Anna Denault, fifth grade teacher; South Middle School – Lucas Moldenhuaer, science teacher; and a district employee – Melanie Hanson, special education teacher. The resignations are effective June 3, 2022.  
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Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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