Helmut Schmidt, Published October 07 2013
OK sought to move forward with Ed Clapp Park elementary school in Fargo
The Fargo School Board will be asked tonight to give administrators the OK to tackle the remaining major pre-construction steps for putting an elementary school in the Bluemont Lakes area, perhaps as early as the fall of 2015 if everything falls into place.
Work remaining includes:
- Finalizing acquisition of the land from the Park District.
- Cementing plans to finance a new school.
- Hiring an architect to complete building designs.
- Submitting new construction paperwork with the state Department of Public Instruction.
- Developing a timeline for the project, including when to place the project up for bid and start construction.
Administrators say they’ve already done a lot of groundwork in the last month at the board’s behest, meeting with:
- Representatives of the Park District and city of Fargo, including planners and transportation engineers.
- The head pastor of Bethel Church (just east of Ed Clapp Park).
- The president of the Bluemont Lakes Community Service Association.
- Architects, for further design layout concepts of the school.
Superintendent Jeff Schatz told the board in a memo that staff will also meet with Bluemont Lakes residents to ensure they are informed about plans to build in Ed Clapp Park.
The park has been embraced by School Board members since it was first put forward publicly at a meeting by board member John Strand.
The site – if all of the remaining issues can be resolved – offers the chance to build a school in an existing neighborhood, and use infrastructure in place to service it, Strand said.
A kindergarten through fifth-grade school on the site could provide great relief for fast enrollment growth at Kennedy Elementary School, as well as to Lewis and Clark Elementary north of Interstate 94, which draws students from the northern section of Bluemont Lakes, district staff and school board members have said.
“Personally, I’m just really relieved that this process seems to be wrapping up,” Strand said Monday.
“I know there will be challenges with financing, and with growth in south Fargo, but it’s a really good start. The sooner the better,” Strand said.
Board member Kris Wallman said Kennedy Elementary has seen constantly rising enrollment, and at times, crowding, since it opened.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled” with the Ed Clapp Park site, Wallman said. “It’s high time that we have a school in that area.”
In other business, board members will be asked to approve some items for the lead-up to the March 11 special election. That ballot will ask voters to approve continuing the School District’s excess mill levy.
The board will be asked to approve using paper ballots in the election, and to allow staff to work with the county to establish an early voting site.
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583