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Wendy Reuer, Published March 21 2013

Community Long Range Facilities Task Force begins meetings with ‘blank slate’

FARGO – City officials, high school students, educators and representatives of neighborhoods gathered here Thursday evening for the first of what will be four meetings of the Community Long Range Facilities Task Force.

The community group was organized as an arm of the long-range facilities planning committee, a subgroup of the school board, to provide feedback on how to deal with budding enrollment changes and the future of school buildings.

Rob Schwartz, CEO of RSP and Associates, a consulting group hired by the school district, told the roughly 25-member task force Thursday that no recommendations have been made by the school board, administration or RSP.

“We’re working with a blank slate,” Schwartz said. “This purely is an organic process.”

Schwartz said Thursday’s meeting was mostly informational – a chance for task force members to get to know one another and prepare for upcoming meetings where members will eventually make recommendations to the school board.

The task force was asked to examine information about enrollment trends and the school board’s goals, which are available to the public on the district’s website, and report any questions or ideas that can be addressed at future meetings.

The district’s largest student population is in kindergarten classes, with 928 students. Kindergarteners far outnumber high school seniors this year, with a senior class of 739.

The task force has scheduled four meetings, but that is subject to change depending on how quickly the members can work, according to John Strand, school board member and chairman of the ad hoc long-range facilities planning committee.

There will also be two communitywide public meetings, likely to be held in May, to address long- range planning.

The community task force will meet again at 6 p.m. April 4.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530