FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Fargo Public Schools is growing and it needs to shift its boundaries to either correct or prevent overcrowding at several of its schools. There's a task force to help guide the district - thanks to input from parents and other community members. But several community members have reached out - expressing concern over the school district's plans and priorities.
A task force member says all of the school district's top plans have major flaws.
The plan with the most votes (scenario 9) sends Kennedy Elementary School students away from their neighborhood school (Discovery Middle School) to Carl Ben Eielson Middle School. Community members say it's too far for students to walk or bike to school, and the commute will take about 20 minutes both ways. If students are bused, they say that will come with an extra cost to tax payers. The parents say this plan focuses too much on creating a balance of students with different socioeconomic backgrounds - at the cost of tax payer money and time.
Meanwhile, the task force member says the next plan with the most votes (scenario 8) doesn't take socioeconomic factors into consideration enough - effectively creating an 'inner city' school - with low income and minority students all in one location.
The task force member says if the school district were to pick one priority as an overarching goal - such as balancing attendance and socioeconomic status - the group would have more success.
A large group of Kennedy Elementary School neighbors plan to meet up Tuesday night to organize a response to the task force's ideas so far.
If you're interested in observing one of Fargo's Building Capacity and Usage Task Force meetings, they are open to the public but only task force members can vote. The next meeting is Tuesday, April 30th starting at 6 PM at South High School.
In a statement about the task force's work so far, Fargo Public Schools says:
"The Fargo Public Schools is conducting a Building Capacity and Usage Task Force to review enrollment projections and future plans for facility usage. The Building Capacity and Usage Task Force has met three times to date and meets again on April 30. To address the primary concern of some buildings projected to be over capacity while other buildings being underutilized in upcoming years, the committee has reviewed information and began drafting and reviewing possible attendance boundary scenarios for middle school boundaries. At this time, consensus has not been reached on a recommendation to forward to the School Board for consideration. Information on the task force can be found at https://www.fargo.k12.nd.us/buildingcapacityandusagetaskforce. The task force has been using the Guiding Principles set in the district's Long Range Facilities Plan for their work. Enrollment projections show that boundary changes are necessary in order to balance student enrollments in our schools and use our facilities and resources wisely; current enrollment projections show a need for boundary changes, but not building of additional schools.
The Building Capacity and Usage Task Force consists of 46 members. The meetings are open to the public, but only those on the task force vote for consensus on the recommendations. The recommendations, once ready, will be forwarded to the Fargo School Board for review and possible approval, and then will become part of the district's updated Long Range Facilities Plan.
The task force has not come to consensus on a recommendation at this time. Therefore, it would not be prudent for the district to discuss specific boundary scenarios; doing so would undermine the task force's process. The process really needs to be carried out prior to any commentary."