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Helmut Schmidt, Published January 23 2012

West Fargo School board approves boundaries plan

HORACE, N.D. – The West Fargo School Board voted 7-0 Monday to approve a school boundaries plan that includes the new Freedom Elementary, which opens this fall.

The decision came without protest during the board’s meeting held at Horace Elementary School.

But the boundaries issue will return – at least south of Interstate 94 – sometime soon.

Board members were told the district expects to have 150 new elementary students this fall, with 150 to 200 more projected each year thereafter.

That means planning to build the next elementary school may have to begin right after school enrollment time, board member Dave Olson said.

Freedom Elementary will open with about 430 students and is built to hold 530, Olson said.

“The way that development is down south, we’re going to be pushing the envelope for the next school year very quickly,” Olson said. “We’re going to have to start looking at property again. It’s a good problem to have.”

The school board’s boundaries vote also directed administrators to form a group to plan the phase-in of sports and activities at the second high school being built with additions to Sheyenne 9th Grade Center, at Veterans Boulevard and 40th Avenue South.

Those recommendations are expected by March.

Meetings will also be held at the elementary schools affected by boundary changes: Aurora, L.E. Berger, South and Westside.

Board President Ben Koppelman said the boundaries plan will probably meet protest when it’s implemented.

But he said the district allows students to stay at a school or transfer to another if room is available.

“Any time that can be honored. We’ll honor it. That should soften the blow,” he said.

The boundary changes include:

The district has a 10-acre parcel for another elementary school south of 52nd Avenue South.

Stability – making these boundaries hold as long as possible – was the leading goal of the group that studied the boundaries issue. Worries about balancing socio-economic status or consistency in the school feeder systems were lesser worries, Superintendent David Flowers said.

The district also plans to move the English Language Learners Newcomer program to Westside, as well as add an adult ELL day program there. Those programs are expected to use three classrooms, a memo to the board said.

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