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Wendy Reuer, Published November 12 2013

Fargo School Board finalizes long-range facilities plan

FARGO – The Fargo School Board on Tuesday finalized its plan for buildings over the next 10 years as it looks to enrollment projections suggesting the district could grow by as many as 300 students each year.

The district’s long-range facilities plan outlines how the district will take care of its current buildings. It also sets out future building plans.

The board accepted a report from its consultant, RSP Associates, that projects district enrollment to continue an upward swing at a rate of 200 to 300 students each year, with an expected enrollment of 12,000 students by 2018-19. Current district enrollment is about 11,000.

The report noted the district only increased by 103 students this year, which was less than the expected 189 students.

The report expects most enrollment growth to occur in south Fargo where the residential building market is booming.

“There will be some new residential construction attracting new students and many other students who currently attend will move out of the district boundary, which may cause some very significant enrollment shifts,” the report stated.

Superintendent Jeff Schatz said Tuesday the district has been using numbers in the report to develop a long-range facilities plan.

Schatz said he plans to continue updating the report.

“Our plan is to engage with a demographer every fall,” Schatz said.

The board finalized the long-range facilities plan after staff struck language specifying possible boundary movements.

The board asked that the language be removed at its Oct. 22 meeting to keep its options for balancing enrollment open. Basic anchors of the plan were left untouched, which include moving forward on breaking ground for a new elementary school in Ed Clapp Park this spring for completion by fall 2015.

The Fargo Park Board approved building a school on the land on Tuesday.

According to the long-range facilities plan, the district will also start installing air conditioning in schools without it by this summer, and break ground on another elementary school in 2018 while adding to Discovery Middle School in 2019.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530