Helmut Schmidt, Published September 24 2010
New life for Agassiz: Plans fill most of school’s newer sections
The Fargo School District’s plans for the building after South Campus II’s ninth-graders move out could eventually pack the building.
Already planned to move into Agassiz are the district’s alternative high school Woodrow Wilson High, adult English Language Learners programs and Even Start, an early childhood program that primarily serves children of new Americans, said Lowell Wolff, assistant to the superintendent.
The building will also house a teacher-training facility, the Fargo Public School Development Foundation and the Central High School Alumni Association, Wolff said.
The gymnasiums are already used for sports practices and Fargo Park District programs, said Wolff, who added that other potential partner programs are being sought.
Rob Kueneman, executive director of the Youth Commission/Boys and Girls Club of the Red River Valley, confirmed that his group is in preliminary talks with the district for program space.
In all, Wolff said a rough estimate puts building use next fall at 85 to 90 percent.
Wolff said about $4 million will be spent to renovate all but the 1930s portion of the building. He said an architect may be asked to study that section to see if it’s economically feasible to renovate, either for educational purposes or to rent to other programs.
In the meantime, the district plans to be more aggressive in selling the downtown Woodrow Wilson School and 40 acres of land it owns just north of the new Davies High School in far south Fargo.
The asking price for Woodrow and the city block it sits on is $1.8 million, said Superintendent Rick Buresh. In recent weeks, the district has seen some interest and given prospective buyers tours, but no offers have been tendered, he said.
In October, the district will put together a process to hire a real estate firm to sell Woodrow and the southside acreage, Buresh said.
Deb Dillon, principal of Woodrow Wilson, said students are giving their input on transition issues in moving from the Woodrow Wilson School to Agassiz, which sits about a mile south.
“They’re OK with it. They’re probably less bothered by it than my staff,” she said.
Dillon said the space crunch at Woodrow, makes Agassiz look inviting.
The alternative high school has about 120 students, though it has space for about 105 daily, she said.
One adult education classroom at Woodrow has 43 students, Dillon said.
“We just have become very, very tight here,” Dillon said. “Both the adult ed and the high school are full to the overflowing” now. “It will be nice when we can spread out a bit and have the space we need.”
Davies High School is on track to open next fall. At that time, ninth-graders will be reintegrated into South High School, district officials say.
Fargo will then have three traditional high schools and an alternative community high school.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583