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Published May 21 2012

Fargo School Board considers moving fifth-graders back to Kennedy

FARGO – The Fargo School Board is looking at bringing fifth-grade students back to Kennedy Elementary School here this fall, a plan that has some parents concerned about overcrowding.

At a community meeting in Kennedy’s gym on Monday night, the board presented to more than 40 parents the specifics of moving the students back from Discovery Middle School, where they are currently housed.

Kennedy is currently the only elementary school in the district without fifth-grade students, something that board President Jim Johnson said the board has a goal of changing.

Space at Kennedy was created last year after the completion of an eight-classroom addition, and after a boundary shift that relocated approximately 55 students to Lewis and Clark Elementary School.

The eight new classrooms brought the total number at Kennedy to 34, which Johnson said is more than enough for the current 2012-13 enrollment at the school.

In 2013-2014 though, the board projects that enrollment would fill all 34 classrooms.

Many parents at Monday night’s meeting expressed concern at that estimation, and questioned why the board would bring fifth-graders back when in two years the school would already be full.

“Why are we bringing them back when there’s no room for them?” asked Shannon Olson, who has two sons in fifth grade and a daughter going into third grade.

If all classrooms were to be filled after two years, Johnson said, then the board would likely look at changing the boundary again, as it did last year.

“If, in fact, the current defined boundary areas are still producing more children than the school can adequately serve, then at some point those boundaries need to be looked at again,” he said.

But, he added, it’s difficult to predict too far down the road because it’s unclear how the southern part of Fargo will continue to develop.

“It’s never an easy thing to figure out boundaries when you’re in a new part of town,” he said. “When the city grows, you have to grow with it.”

The board will further discuss and then vote on the plan at tonight’s meeting.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535