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Published November 14 2012

Forum editorial: W. Fargo schools grow again

One need not be a demographer to see growth in the city of West Fargo and the impact growth is having on West Fargo schools. Until the aberration of the North Dakota oil boom, the West Fargo School District was the fastest-growing district in the state. The pace appears to be accelerating.

If the numbers hold – and there is no reason to believe they won’t – West Fargo schools could be educating more students than Fargo schools in about a decade. The projected growth is 11,400 students by then, compared to current enrollment of 8,056. Fargo’s enrollment this year is 10,857 students. Of course, a study’s comparison of numbers today and a decade from today apparently did not consider Fargo’s growth in the next 10 years. It is likely Fargo’s growth will be slower than West Fargo’s, but Fargo schools now count nearly 11,000 students, and that number will grow also.

Nevertheless, the speed of growth of the student population in West Fargo is both good news for the city and a real challenge for the school district. Voters have been generous in approving new revenue to fund school buildings, and that process has resulted in several new schools and school improvements. But even those space and facilities additions already are proving to be inadequate in the face of more and more students.

West Fargo schools have excellent leadership. For the most part, administrators and school board members have been out in front of the student population growth, including addressing the “bubbles” that occur in elementary grades. It is likely the district will have to build another elementary school in the high-growth neighborhoods south of Interstate 94. It’s also to be expected that among the challenges of such startling growth will be stresses and strains on school finances.

Pressure on schools is an indication that young families are favoring West Fargo for housing and schools. Young families mean school-age children. They also add vitality and involvement to the city, and that’s good news for any town. And as long as the thriving big city next door – Fargo – is the region’s jobs center and economic engine, West Fargo will continue to grow.

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