Grand Forks community members build their vision for proposed Valley Middle School

Final community input session scheduled for Feb. 22.

From left to right: Bill Harris, Daniel Harris, Hannah Vonasek, Katie Edwards and Brandon Baumbach present their design for a new Valley Middle School
Joe Banish/Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS – Students, faculty and members of the community gathered to construct their visions for a new Valley Middle School during a design and planning session on Wednesday.

Grand Forks Public Schools is planning for a referendum to be held in May, when the public will be asked if they support a rebuilding of Valley, a project that carries an estimated price tag of $55 million. According to Terry Brenner, the district’s superintendent, the session is an integral component of the referendum process.

“Community input is critical to the success of this process,” said Brenner. “Sequentially, these sessions will lead to a cohesive vision for how we proceed with the referendum.”

Wednesday’s community input and design session built upon an initial planning phase during which community members were asked to provide vision statements for the proposed middle school. Heidi Neumueller, associate principal with Cunningham Architects, said it is important to plan for the future when rendering designs.

“We are designing a school that will exist for decades to come,” said Neumueller. "We should ask ourselves, 'how do we future-proof it?'"


Participants were divided into six groups, each creating their own design of a future Valley Middle School with color-coded blocks. Each block represents approximately 900 square feet of learning space, divided into instructional, administrative, extracurricular and athletic components.

At the conclusion of the event, each group presented a design, explaining the building’s layout and how their vision would best serve students. Presentations were recorded for use at the final community input session, to be held at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 22 at the Mark Sanford Education Center.

According to Kyle Kvamme, principal director of community engagement at ICON Architects, who along with Cunningham is consulting with the district through the referendum process, the final community input session will synthesize the contributions of participants into one unified vision for the referendum.

Following the completion of the final community input session, Brenner says the district will proceed to drafting the referendum’s language in front of the School Board. In addition to the $55 million for rebuilding Valley, Brenner says the district is considering pursuing up to $18 million in security upgrades, such as adding secured entrances for buildings currently lacking them, as well as $7 million in proposed roof repairs.

Banish covers news pertaining to K-12 and higher education, as well as county commission coverage.
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