Wahpeton schools getting renovations

Roof replacement at Wahpeton High School is one component of multiple changes taking effect from now through 2024. In northern Richland County, N.D., the Richland 44 district will have its first year with a dual high school principal-superintendent.

Renovation and construction is expected to continue at the Wahpeton Public Schools campus in northwest Wahpeton.

Composed of three school buildings, the campus is located in the vicinity of Loy Avenue and 11th Street North. Superintendent Rick Jacobson discussed immediate and long-range plans.

“Facilities management is a big deal,” Jacobson said. “If we let things get so rundown and behind, any work gets to be so cost-prohibitive.”

Wahpeton High School and Wahpeton Middle School received roof replacements this summer. Jacobson is hopeful both projects will be completed by Wednesday, Aug. 21, the first day of school.

With just over a week until classes begin in her district, Dr. Britney Gandhi is optimistic.

Principal at Richland 44 High School in Colfax, North Dakota, Gandhi began serving as district superintendent in July. Richland 44 is completed by Richland Elementary in Abercrombie, North Dakota.

Gandhi credits the smooth transition to factors including her close working relationship with Dean Koppelman, Richland 44’s former interim superintendent.

“What I’m most looking forward for this school year is seeing the kids again and maintaining our strong, small school culture,” Gandhi said.

In the future

Wahpeton Public Schools’ five-year, building-by-building comprehensive plan is scheduled to take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

“This is a more comprehensive, fluid document that will better illustrate where the money’s going to go. Projects vary from mechanical work, electrical work, structures, buildings and grounds. It takes a lot of money for the daily and the yearly upkeep,” Jacobson said.

An agriculture education facility, adjacent to Wahpeton High School’s main building, will be expanded this fall.

“We hope to have the groundbreaking any day now,” Jacobson said.

The construction is a collaboration between Wahpeton Public Schools and North Dakota State College of Science. Jacobson is hopeful the new building will be erected within the fall semester.

“We’d like to have the inside work taken care of in the second semester and completion by the end of the school year,” Jacobson said. “Of course, there’s professionals and work involved like mechanical sub-contractors and getting the ground excavated. But that should all start in earnest soon.”

Center commitments

The Southeast Region Career and Technology Center is another of Wahpeton Public Schools’ partners. Board members have been kept aware of projects including expansion of the agriculture facility and the movement and renovation of a two-car garage by the property.

“It will be moved to the center property in north Wahpeton to be used for equipment and trailer storage,” according to minutes from a recent Career and Technology Center meeting.

Dan Rood, Jr., the center’s director, was unavailable for comment.

Jacobson is optimistic that the five-year plan will allow for a smoother facilities management process beginning as soon as this fall.

“We’ll have our list of things to take care of in that five-year window, ranging from the high priorities to the middle and lower-range priorities,” he said.

Changes continue

The 2019-20 school year is the first for Danica Sinner, Wahpeton’s business manager.

“There’s no way to prepare for this job until you’re in it,” Jacobson said. “Danica is about getting her feet wet, learning about what’s going on. It’s a daunting position to be in, there is a learning curve she’s adjusting to and we’re all trying to help.”

Facilities upgrades are just one change Wahpeton Public Schools is introducing this fall.

Next month, the district honors inaugural members of its hall of fame. They are businessman and philanthropist Robert Hughes; retired Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers player Art “Tony” Anderson; national motivational speaker Dr. Paul Radde, Ph.D; former high school principal and District 25 representative Clark Williams and community activist Roger Jensen.

City Brew Hall, Wahpeton, is hosting an 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14 luncheon. Tickets are $25 and are available at the school district’s office or from alumni association members.

“Ned Clooten really got that baby off the ground,” Jacobson said. “This is going to be a good deal that keeps our alumni connected to the school. It’s interesting to see this taking shape. It’s a good thing and Ned’s done a nice job of being leader.”

For your information

• Damon DeVillers was elected president of the nine-member Wahpeton Public Schools board earlier this summer. Nathan Berseth was re-elected president of the seven-member Richland 44 Public Schools board.

• Wahpeton Public Schools is completed by Zimmerman Elementary, 508 Ninth St. N. in Wahpeton. The district office is located within Wahpeton High School, 1021 11th St. N. in Wahpeton.

• Richland 44 Public Schools’ district office is located within Richland 44 High School, 101 Main St. in Colfax.

• To learn more about Red River Valley schools, including staff and other essential knowledge, be sure to read the Tuesday, Aug. 20 edition of Daily News.

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