Grand Forks School Board to review facility recommendations at special meeting

Board members will consider school consolidation, closures on Thursday, Dec. 17, at a meeting in Red River High School's Performance Hall.

The Grand Forks School Board discussed plans for reopening schools at a special meeting held July 28 at Red River High School’s Performance Hall. Another special meeting has been scheduled for Monday, Nov. 16. On Nov. 19, the School Board will host a Legislative Forum. Kimberly Wynn / Grand Forks Herald

School consolidations and closures are on the agenda of a special meeting on Thursday, Dec. 17, when the Grand Forks School Board reviews recommendations of the school district’s Facilities Task Force.

The special board meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Red River High School Performance Hall, will be livestreamed on the school district’s YouTube channel and will be archived there for later viewing, according to Tracy Jentz, communications coordinator for the district.

The Facilities Task Force has been analyzing the district’s financial and physical plant challenges at regular meetings since March.

Some task force members have volunteered to attend the meeting and address any questions School Board members may have. The task force’s recommendations include the closure of Valley Middle School and the consolidation of West, Wilder and Winship elementary schools, to be replaced by two separate elementary and middle schools -- or possibly two connected buildings that may share some common spaces -- on the city’s north side.

The task force recommends replacing Valley and West schools because renovation is no longer considered to be a viable option.


On the city’s south end, task force recommendations include closing Viking Elementary School and consolidating it into a remodeled and expanded Kelly Elementary School, and closing Lewis and Clark Elementary School and consolidating it into a remodeled and expanded Ben Franklin Elementary School.

These and other facility upgrades would potentially constitute a $90 million bond referendum the board may bring before voters in June.

The Facilities Task Force, a group of about 40 community members with a range of backgrounds and perspectives, concluded its work Dec. 3, finalizing recommendations for the school board to consider as it grapples with budget shortfalls caused, in large part, by emergency spending to restore deteriorating buildings and HVAC equipment functioning in various district properties.

The task force went through a process, involving learning and small-group discussion, facilitated by SitelogIQ, a consultant hired to assist with pre-referendum planning.

Twenty-three evening meetings were conducted, including on-site guided tours to offer a better understanding of conditions as well as modern educational practices, in about a dozen schools.

This Thursday’s special board meeting is open to the public, though seating in the Performance Hall is limited, due to social distancing requirements.


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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