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Wendy Reuer, Published May 14 2011

Dilworth-Glynton-Felton finds temporary solution to elementary overcrowding

DILWORTH – To preserve class size and buy time, the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton School District will move next year’s fifth-graders to Glyndon Elementary School.

Sixty-three Dilworth students will mix with 31 from Glyndon in four sections of fifth grade.

The move will keep sections down to 24 students per class, Superintendent Randy Bruer said.

“This way we can divide them up by equal numbers. So we saved a section yet keep the class sizes smaller,” Bruer said.

Since students from both cities eventually mingle in the Dilworth Junior High or Glyndon High School, Bruer said this is just a speeding up of that process.

Parent Troy Helgeson said keeping the class sizes small is definitely important.

However, mother Jamie Morehouse of Moorhead doesn’t agree.

“I think we have enough space here,” Morehouse said.

Morehouse is a Moorhead School District alumna with three boys now at D-G-F. She said she sends her children to D-G-F because of the small-school atmosphere, which needs to be maintained.

It is exactly what Bruer said the district hopes to do despite a predicted population boom.

Currently the district has about 1,380 enrolled students, up from 1,250 in 2000. The schools’ population is expected to grow to about 1,460 by 2014.

“We’re using a lot of the space that we have available. Within the next five years, we will exhaust that space if enrollment trends proceed like they are,” Bruer said.

Recent Census data appears to confirm the growth. The 2010 Census revealed Dilworth’s population jumped to 4,024 from 3,001 in 2000.

Last year, a community facility task force comprised of 23 community members was formed to address both short- and long-term solutions for the growing population.

In November, the task force recommended the district study building a new school, with a bond vote as early as this month.

“We can’t do it this year. It’s just not enough time to find property and try to put it to a vote,” said LeAnn Gifford, community facilities task force member.

Gifford said whether the district would build an addition to one of the schools or a whole new school will remain in discussion.

“We’ve thrown out ideas, but until we know what we will do for land, it’s hard to know what we can do and what the voters want. Do they want to remodel, or do they want a new school?” Gifford said.

She said she expects the task force to begin meeting again in the fall to move forward with building plans.

In the meantime, Gifford – a Glyndon parent of four – said she understands parent concerns regarding the fifth-grade move.

“It was a very hard decision for the school board because we know parents would like to have their children go to school in the community they live in,” Gifford said.

Her daughter will be in fifth grade next year.

Friday, Glyndon Elementary hosted an orientation for the future fifth-graders.

“She just came home excited that the Dilworth kids will be joining them,” Gifford said.

The move will be in effect for two years, with the same class attending Glyndon for sixth grade.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530