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Published August 29 2012

Forum editorial: West Fargo schools filling up

An honest perusal of the numbers will convince even the most skeptical that West Fargo schools have to expand classroom capacity. Enrollment is up more than was projected. Brand-new schools are full, sometimes beyond planned capacity. The promise of smaller class sizes that came with approval of financing for new schools cannot be realized because of the growing student population.

It’s a problem, but one that can be solved. West Fargo schools have been confronting population growth for more than a decade. For the most part, district officials and voters have supported building projects that might have been controversial to begin with but now look very smart.

Among the immediate needs is another elementary school in the city’s south neighborhoods. Rapid growth of residential and commercial areas is attracting more and more families, many of them young and with school-age children. The trend is likely to continue for some time.

School administrators and the school board are actively discussing when and how to add classrooms. The immediacy of the demand suggests the board should act quickly. A delay in planning and implementation will mean a delay in easing school crowding. Keep in mind, voters approved just a few months ago an expensive building project that was designed to keep class sizes in the right range.

In addition to the elementary school pressure, a new high school is under construction south of Interstate 94 along Veterans Boulevard, which should take some of the load off the existing high school north of the interstate highway. The high school will come on line in 2013. A new middle school also will be ready soon.

It’s clear the district has been moving as fast as possible to accommodate growth. But the acceleration of growth, stimulated in part by development and projected development in the Veterans Boulevard corridor, was unexpected. It’s also clear there is a need for more school buildings as soon as possible. Given the district’s good record of responding to that need, it is likely new projects will get under way soon.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.