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Helmut Schmidt, Published August 06 2013

West Fargo seeks more access for its school site in Fargo

FARGO – Another access road is being sought for a school site owned by the West Fargo School District just north of the Deer Creek subdivision in Fargo.

The School Board was told Tuesday at a retreat session that a 22-acre site between 52nd Avenue South and Deer Creek has only one access road, 63rd Street South.

Superintendent David Flowers and Business Manager Mark Lemer said they’re working with Fargo city officials to see if another access road can be created.

“They know of the need to develop the site,” Lemer said.

If another access to the site can’t be created by fall 2015 – when the district wants its next elementary school to open – Flowers and Lemer said they would explore a land swap with other area landowners.

They said they want the land issue settled so the district can start accepting construction bids in February.

“This (site) isn’t currently a slam dunk,” Lemer said.

School Board members approved a plan in late July that would use money saved from other school construction projects and its building fund levy to finance another elementary school.

The district is now building an elementary school at 54th Street South, just north of 40th Avenue South in Fargo, which is expected to open in fall 2014.

Enrollment at the elementary level is growing so fast – about 300 students per year – that the school could well open full, just as Freedom Elementary School did, district officials said.

Extra help needed

In other business, elementary principals, in a memo, made a pitch for adding half-time assistant superintendents at each of their schools.

Five schools were identified as candidates for extra help, through a matrix created by Assistant Superintendent Beth Slette. The factors in the matrix included school size; the number of low-income students and English Language Learners; the number of committees and evaluations the principal had to handle; programs for autism and emotionally disturbed students; and working at multiple buildings.

“It’s not just the size, it’s the need of the school” that’s important, Slette said.

Tied at the top of the list were the Clayton A. Lodoen Kindergarten Center and Eastwood Elementary School, followed by three other schools, also tied: L.E. Berger, Freedom and Westside.

Flowers said he wanted the board to see the rationale before a funding request is made.

“In an ideal world, I’d be asking you for two assistant principals,” Flowers said.

The work of those principals would be shared between four schools, Slette said.

The retreat was held at the Expressway Inn and Suites in the West Acres area. That part of Fargo is in the West Fargo School District.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583