West Fargo Schools referendum draws criticism from voters

Upcoming referendum proposal draws criticism from some residents in the district
Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 6:21 PM CDT
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WEST FARGO, ND (Valley News Live) -The West Fargo School District is making a push for its upcoming school referendum vote. The referendum includes renovations and expansions to West Fargo Public Schools including additions for the newly built Heritage Middle School and Horace High School, and that’s drawing criticism from some residents in the district.

West Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Beth Slette says, “It’s a critical need that we are continuing to have to have buildings and places for all of these learners to go.”

Back in May, the West Fargo School board unanimously approved the referendum to be voted on this September.

The district is holding several listening sessions in the upcoming weeks to promote the vote. Which they say is vital to handle the growth of the district.

“Our schools are very very full, but I just remind you back to that, additional 400 to 600 students per year, our schools fill up very very fast,” explains Superintendent Slette.

For some residents, like Becky Disher, the referendum vote is easy.

“There’s more in it than needs to be and I vote no,” says Disher.

Disher believes there’s a larger issue at hand not being addressed in the referendum.

“The concern that I have and it’s a pattern that we’ve seen over the years with the West Fargo School District is that they are building schools that are not big enough to handle the growth and the kids that are in those schools”

Disher thinks the new schools should have been built bigger in the first place and she’s frustrated that more money will have to be put into them.

“The Horace High School is not completed, there are wings that are under construction, have caution tape up and you cannot go into. The school is not even done being built and they already need to add on, that is a problem,” Disher says. Horace High School started welcoming students back in 2021.

Disher argues having larger school buildings would fix the problem, but Superintendent Slette says stakeholders have a different size range goal in mind.

“They want to keep schools within a certain size range, so our high schools, our largest high schools are 1,550 at the cap and we try to keep our middle schools not any larger than 1,200,″ explains Slette.

Overall, Disher feels this referendum isn’t benefitting everyone in the district equally.

“Our district is huge and what they want is largely for Horace and they want the whole district to be involved,” says Disher.

The referendum vote will take place on September 26.

You can find a full list of future listening sessions here.