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Helmut Schmidt, Published February 26 2013

Harwood enrollment nears capacity

HARWOOD, N.D. – Whether it’s a baby boomlet or a turnover in the neighborhoods Harwood Elementary serves, the school’s enrollment is now pushing its capacity.

Next fall, the school could have about 125 students at the door. The problem is that class sizes are uneven, and the school, which has seven classrooms and a music room, is nearly out of space to put kids as bigger classes are split, Principal Jerry Barnum said.

The West Fargo School District has put together a committee to study the enrollment issue.

The committee has three meetings scheduled, starting tonight. It is expected to have recommendations for the school board by April 1, Superintendent David Flowers said.

Among options, the panel could recommend: switching some neighborhoods into the enrollment areas of other schools; adding classrooms and a gymnasium so the school can have two sections per grade; and combining grades in one classroom.

In January, there were 33 kindergartners from the Harwood attendance area at the West Fargo Lodoen Kindergarten Center or in day care who will attend the Harwood school.

There are 29 first-graders and 27 second-graders – both classes are split into two sections. There are 16 third-graders, 21 fourth-graders and 17 fifth-graders.

“(The numbers are) too big for one class, but not large enough to have two.” Barnum said of the early grades.

The school is out of extra rooms, unless it uses the music room this fall and has the music teacher go class-to-class using a cart, he said.

“There are just awkward enrollment numbers,” Flowers said. “We don’t know if it’s a longer-term trend.”

Flowers said he anticipates a public meeting will be held to share more information with parents.

Barnum said he can be reached by phone at either the Harwood (701-356-2040) or Horace (701-356-2080) elementary schools; or by email at Barnum@west-fargo.k12.nd.us.

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