Helmut Schmidt, Published October 08 2013
Elementary school in Ed Clapp Park gets green light for more work
“We recognize that there’s a need for a new school,” board President Dinah Goldenberg said. “We don’t want to drag our feet.”
Before the vote, Superintendent Jeff Schatz told the board that time is at a premium if a school is to be built quickly.
“If we are going to open a school by (fall) 2015, we need to get going on this. We can’t wait,” he said.
In addition to construction-related items, Schatz told board members in a memo that there will be meetings with residents of the Bluemont Lakes neighborhood so they can be fully informed of the district’s plans.
It looks like the Clapp family is on board.
Ben Clapp, a son of Ed Clapp Jr. (for whom the park is named), wrote in an email to the board Tuesday that he is pleased the district is looking at the park for a school.
“I can assure you that it was always the hope of my father that a school would be built at this site,” Ben Clapp wrote.
“My father and I had many conversations before his death in June about the action being contemplated by you and it would always bring a smile to (his) face to think that a school might be built,” Clapp wrote. “As a resident of the Bluemont Lakes neighborhood for 25 years, it will (be) nice to have a home school for the neighborhood.”
Plans to turn the Eagles Center into a full-sized elementary school appear to have hit a snag, though.
Schatz said city officials point to the building’s location in the flood plain and say there could be a need to elevate buildings in the flood plain, plus more red tape to get approval for work.
“It could be problematic,” Schatz said.
He said staff will try to determine “whether or not it’s worth investing in that site.”
Board member Jim Johnson likes the Ed Clapp and Eagles Center sites for schools, but said there are a lot of items to be settled.
Nonetheless, the clock is ticking.
“Our problems are front and center,” Johnson said, with one of them being enrollment growth in south Fargo. “The sooner we get moving, the sooner we can address those issues.”
In other business, the board voted 7-0 to have administrators hire an engineer to begin the design phase of adding air conditioning to six elementary schools – Roosevelt, Horace Mann, Madison, McKinley, Clara Barton, and Lewis and Clark.
The board also approved using paper ballots and working with Cass County to establish an early voting site for a March 11 special election to ask voter approval for the district’s excess mill levy.
Board members also agreed to add a meeting on Oct. 29 to discuss long-range facilities planning.
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583