Construction began on West Elementary School in 1948, and the school opened in the fall of 1950. A second wing was added to the school in 1955. The school is named for former Grand Forks Public Schools Superintendent John C. West. During the flood of 1997, West Elementary sustained garden view level damage, with the library and cafeteria sustaining significant damage. Relocatables were added to accommodate space needs while the damaged areas of the school were repaired.