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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 24 2010

Fargo School Board pares enrollment options

Fargo School Board members held a quick poll Tuesday to trim down the options they wish to use to manage enrollment.

However, a thorough discussion on how to solve the space crunch in schools south of Interstate 94 – particularly at Kennedy Elementary – is not expected until the board’s January retreat, President Jim Johnson said.

Still, he said the issue will be on future agendas to tackle questions as they crop up, starting Dec. 14.

“I’m very hopeful that after several hours of discussion in retreat” that they’ll have a direction. Johnson said.

But “I have no illusion that it will happen in one sitting in January, either. It’s just a long-term project that’s going to take a lot of time to flesh out the options.”

Kennedy is packed, with its fifth-graders at Discovery Middle School and four portable classrooms on the campus.

Administrators say south-side enrollment is growing about 90 students a year, with Bennett Elementary enrollments the most likely to start rising next.

Among the options getting further consideration to manage enrollment: additions to Kennedy or other schools; building an elementary school; creating a magnet school; setting new elementary boundaries; busing students; asking parents to voluntarily move children from Kennedy to Bennett; moving special-needs programs; putting art, music or other classes on carts; or expanding use of portable classrooms.

Other options were set aside for now, including: raising class sizes; renting space; re-establishing a south-side kindergarten center; hiring a firm to do a more thorough analysis; or year-round classes.

In other business, the board:

- Deferred action on choosing a firm to sell Woodrow Wilson School and 50 acres of land near Davies High School.

The issue will go to the Planning Committee, which hadn’t studied the bids before they were presented, Johnson said.

Woodrow Wilson could fetch up to $1.4 million, Business Manager Broc Lietz said, while the 50-acre parcel may bring in $925,000 to $1.1 million.

Board members had several questions about the bids, and debated whether to reject them and get new ones or to have administrators try to sell the acreage, among other options.

- Approved the 2011 budget for Trollwood Performing Arts School.

The school has a budget of $960,191, about 8 percent less than 2010.

The school district will contribute $490,211, or 3 percent more than the 2010 budget year, while FutureBuilders will supply $94,000.

The remainder comes from admissions, fees, merchandise and concessions sales, meals and other revenues.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583