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Addition for Verndale school is on the way

Balloons, shovels, hard hats, speeches and a warm, sunny October afternoon were all part of the ground-breaking ceremony last Thursday at the Verndale School.

The Verndale student body turned out along with teachers, administrators and staff members to mark the beginning of a 29,700-square foot addition to the Wadena County school.

The addition is set to house a new gymnasium, locker rooms, science rooms, administrative offices and storage space.

Portions of the existing school will be remodeled. Elementary and secondary portions of the school will be separated completely. The cafeteria will be enlarged and remodeled. Special education facilities will be upgraded.

The addition is expected to be ready for occupancy in September, 2014.

District 818 has grown to nearly 500 students in recent years. Nearly half of Verndale’s students are open-enrolled from other districts.

The ceremony came 14 months after voters of District 818 rejected the original plan by a vote of 300-252. A second vote was held May 30 and passed 340-252.

The total cost of the project is $5.795 million. District 818 has already contributed $845,000. The remainder of the cost will be paid by state aid and local property taxes.