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Fargo Public Schools Plan to Expand - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Fargo Public Schools Plan to Expand

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Leaders with Fargo Public Schools are at a crossroads. They are trying to create a plan that will allow the district to handle large growth in the coming years.

With many details to work out, it is not a quick or easy process for the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee.

Committee Chair John Strand says, "We have growth in South Fargo. We don't have growth in North Fargo. We have pockets of South Fargo that really don't have a school nearby."

At least two elementary schools, Kennedy Elementary and Lewis and Clark, are nearly bursting at the seams, and nearly a thousand more students are on the way in the next five years.

"The last plan the district had basically came to a conclusion with the construction of Davies High School," says Strand.

New projections show, because of the strong economy, more people are coming to the Fargo-Moorhead area. Some elementary classes are looking at sizes of 900-1000 students. That is up from 750-900 students currently.

So the goal is to have a new road map the district can follow by the fall.

Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Schatz says, "It's a variety of different things, looking at how we use our buildings, looking at what our needs are maybe for new buildings and new capacity within the district."

"I don't think anybody wants us to go down the path of big, big, big classrooms as a tradeoff," adds Strand.

There is talk of redrawing some of the district lines to provide relief to the schools, but it is not a catchall given the great growth to the south. Realistically, the area near Davies High School could be looking at a new elementary school.

"We just need to look at what we need to do as a district to make sure that those new students who come to our district have a place to be educated," says Schatz.

The committee knows it also needs to work hand-in-hand with the community through the entire process.

Strand says, "There's always concerns. People don't want boundaries changed. They don't want their kids bused to other parts of town if they live near a school. They want a sense of neighborhood school, where it's their neighborhood and they have a school."

In the short term to handle capacity needs the committee is looking at moving a portion of K-2 students at Kennedy to the Eagle Center. The Early Childhood Special Education program at the Eagle Center would then move to Agassiz.

That move should give them two to three years to find permanent solutions.

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