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Helmut Schmidt, Published May 08 2013

Oak Grove to expand elementary campus

FARGO – Oak Grove Lutheran School will expand its elementary school this summer by purchasing a building just east of the school and converting it into classrooms for children in pre-kindergarten through first grade, school officials said Wednesday.

Oak Grove also will expand enrollment in kindergarten and first grade this fall by a classroom apiece, elementary Principal Josh Kading said.

Eventually, the private elementary school will have three classrooms for each grade, he said.

Conversion of the neighboring building and construction of a connecting enclosed walkway will start when school ends for the year. It will be done by the time the doors open this fall, Kading said.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” Kading said. “We’ve got people knocking on the doors” for the early grades.

Oak Grove Elementary is at 2720 32nd Ave. S. It was acquired from Comstock Services and Monty Kjos in 2005.

It will be a connected to what now is 2710 32nd Ave. S. That building currently houses a few real estate and investment firms and the Here We Grow Childcare Center. Oak Grove also rents space for an Early Learning Center.

Oak Grove President Mike Slette said that it was a generous lead gift from Comstock Services that will make it possible to sign a contract for deed this summer for 2710 32nd Ave. S.

Oak Grove officials declined to release any of the financial details of the transaction.

Fundraising will begin this summer for a “hands-on science center,” which one official said will cost about $50,000.

The current single pickup loop for the school would be turned into north and south pickup loops, separated by the walkway.

A Phase II of expansion would add a cafeteria, commons and administration areas, said Steve Rezac, director of marketing.

Oak Grove Elementary now has about 235 students, Kading said, with two classrooms per grade.

“We have a waiting list to get in. That’s just the wrong message to send,” Kading said.

With both the public Fargo and West Fargo schools seeing a space squeeze, “we are kind of able to help out,” Kading said.

Kading said the idea of buying the neighboring building has floated around for several years, but talks began in earnest about a year ago.

“Looking at the growth in the community, there’s potential for us to be greater than we are,” Kading said.

The expansion will allow Oak Grove to keep its kindergarten and first grade classes at 16 to 18 children per section, and the school should be able to keep grades two through five at 20 children per section, he said.

Teachers were given the news Monday, Kading said. Others may have gotten wind of the plans at the school’s Spring Gala in April.

Before the building at 2720 32nd Ave. S was purchased by Oak Grove, it housed Sullivan Middle School for what now is the Blessed John Paul II Catholic Schools Network. Before that, it had housed a business college.

Oak Grove Lutheran School’s middle and high school campus is at 88 South Terrace, about a mile northeast of Fargo’s downtown business district.

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