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Helmut Schmidt, Published August 22 2013

Fargo School District enrollment tops 11,000

FARGO – Fargo’s public schools saw 11,047 students come in the doors on Thursday for the first day of school, 190 more students than last year, the school district reported.

Schools south of Main Avenue saw the bulk of the district’s growth, while the secondary schools north of Main, Ben Franklin Middle School and North High School, both saw significant losses in student numbers, first-day enrollment figures show.

That tracks closely with predictions by a consultant, Superintendent Jeff Schatz said.

“We’re looking at this type of growth for the next five years,” Schatz said.

The central city elementary buildings saw the most growth. Lewis and Clark Elementary had 585 students, up 45 from last fall. Lincoln Elementary had 529 students, up 36 from last year. The paired Clara Barton/Hawthorne had 415 students, up 25 from last year. While Jefferson Elementary had 337 students, down nine from last year.

North side elementary schools were up 50 students. Washington Elementary had 339 students, up 19 from last fall. Longfellow Elementary had 369 students, up 17. The paired Horace Mann/Roosevelt schools had 342 students, up 16. And McKinley Elementary had 199 students, up 13.

The south side elementary schools had almost stable enrollment overall.

At Kennedy Elementary, growth remains strong with 744 students, up 28 from last fall. Of those, 592 students are in the Kennedy building and 152 students in grades K-2 from the Bluemont Lakes are being taught at the Eagles Center.

Centennial Elementary had 640 students, up nine. But Bennett Elementary had 588 students, down 25 from last fall.

Schatz said increasing enrollments at the paired schools was a good sign.

“It’s nice to see and re-flects well on the strength of those neighborhoods,” he said. “I think that is good news for those neighborhood schools.”

But continued elementary enrollment growth must be addressed south of Main Avenue, he said.

“There’s no doubt that the capacity on the south side needs to be addressed. We are over-capacity,” he said.

Ben Franklin Middle School enrollment was 655 students, down 38 from last year, while North High had 956 students, down 37 from last year.

Carl Ben Eielson Middle school in the central part of the district had 796 students, up 37 from last year, while South High School had 1,123 students, up 21 from last fall.

Discovery Middle School had 926 students, up 19 from last fall, while Davies High School had 1,201 students, up 67 from last year.

This year, the district opened the year with 20 students placed in residential education and treatment facilities. Last year, the district had 39 students in such facilities to start the year.

Woodrow Wilson High School, the district’s alternative high school, opened the year with 111 students, down 19 from last year.

JPII network

Meanwhile, the Blessed John Paul II Catholic Schools Network saw almost no change in enrollment, with 1,020 students starting pre-kindergarten through 12th grade Thursday, compared with 1,019 last year.

Shanley High School had 313 students enrolled, and Sullivan Middle School had 228 students Thursday, said Lori Hager, director of admissions for Fargo’s Catholic schools.

Nativity Elementary School had 324 children in kindergarten through fifth grade, and Holy Spirit Elementary had 155 children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, Hager said.

Last year, Shanley and Sullivan opened the year with a combined 530 stu-dents. There were 489 stu-dents in the Catholic system’s elementary grades last year.

“It’s been a great first day,” Shanley Principal Ed Mitchell said.

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