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Published May 07 2010

West Fargo School Board to seek boundary input

Potential West Fargo school boundary changes will be the focus of a parent question-and-answer session, the school board decided Thursday.

A date and place haven’t been set.

Officials have a tight timeframe to decide whether to reassign school boundary lines to alleviate a space crunch at some schools and better use space districtwide.

It’s also an emotional issue for the 150 elementary school families who could be affected by potential changes.

“We’re concerned about our students; we don’t want them moving around all the time,” said parent Mark McQuillan. “I feel like I’m an Army guy moving from base to base.”

In proposed changes for next year, his first-grade son will move to his third school in just three years.

McQuillan and other parents say they want the district to keep neighborhood schools and the least number of transitions for kids between schools.

“To some degree, I feel like we haven’t gotten any parent involvement,” said school board Vice President Karen Nitzkorski. “And I know that’s late in the game.”

With schools such as Aurora Elementary at capacity, officials need space solutions – even if temporary – by the time school resumes this fall.

The proposed changes would reshuffle students to ensure that classrooms at six of nine elementary and kindergarten schools would be full next fall.

That’s why board members will also explore options later this month to expand Osgood Kindergarten Center.

The south Fargo school in the West Fargo district is surrounded by sprawling developments and also houses first-graders from Aurora Elementary.

Adding four to six classes and a gym would cost an estimated $2 million.

Board members will look at ways to fund it without going to taxpayers.

Superintendent Dana Diesel Wallace cautioned board members about the message they send “to your constituent taxpayers” after two failed referendums this year.

The board hopes to decide on boundaries by the last day of school this month.

“We need to make a good decision, and we don’t have a lot of time to do it,” said board member Kay Kiefer. “When communities grow as fast as West Fargo, boundaries are going to change, and it isn’t popular.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515