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Helmut Schmidt, Published April 23 2013

Fargo School Board approves moving Bluemont students

FARGO – The Fargo School Board on Tuesday agreed on a temporary fix for crowding at Kennedy Elementary School, and may have set the district on the road to potentially building an elementary school in Ed Clapp Park in the Bluemont Lakes subdivision.

Board members were also told by Superintendent Jeff Schatz that work on the district’s long-range facility plan will not be done by mid July as planned, as it appears more meetings will be needed for a task force studying the issue to do its job.

Board members after more than two hours of debate voted 6-3 on a plan that sends the youngest students from Bluemont Lakes who attend Kennedy now to the Eagles Education Center.

The two-year plan also shifts the early childhood special education and Head Start programs from the Eagles Center to Agassiz School.

In addition, the board voted 6-3 to approve a proposal by member John Strand that directs administrators to ask the Park District for permission to test the soils of Ed Clapp Park to see if they can support a school.

Bluemont Lakes students are now divided between Kennedy and Lewis and Clark Elementary Schools.

The Eagles/Agassiz plan, gives school board members time to create a 10-year facilities plan and decide where to build the next elementary school to take enrollment pressure off Kennedy and other southside schools.

Kennedy has 731 students now, but should open this fall with 791 students, and in 2014-15 could have 842 students, Assistant Superintendent Bob Grosz said.

The plan takes kindergarten, first- and second-grade students in the Kennedy attendance area of Bluemont Lakes and sends them to the Eagles Education Center for the 2013-14 school year.

It follows up by sending that area’s kindergarten through third-grade students to the Eagles Center for the 2014-15 school year.

That moves 112 students from Kennedy for 2013-14, and 120 in 2014-15, opening four extra classrooms in Kennedy each year, Grosz said.

Shifting the early childhood special education and Head Start classes to Agassiz School will require at least $200,000 in renovations, Business Manager Broc Lietz said.

The board rejected arguments by members Paul Meyers and Rick Steen to use part of Discovery Middle School to take in the fifth-graders from Kennedy, as was done in the past.

The debate drew an overflow crowd to the boardroom, with several parents speaking for and against the shift of the Bluemont students.

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