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Published February 24 2014

Forum editorial: West Fargo schools must grow

The story of growing student enrollment in West Fargo schools is nothing new. But the acceleration of growth has changed projections for student numbers, and that means facilities plans must be updated.

The West Fargo School Board and administration have been among the best school district planners in the state. Until the oil boom, the district was the fastest-growing in North Dakota. It’s still among the fastest-growing. Moreover, the growth is not the result of what could be called an artificial and transitory boom. West Fargo school growth is paralleling overall urban and suburban residential and commercial expansion in the city. It’s the kind of reliable growth any city wants, even with the challenges it creates.

With the support of school district voters, West Fargo has responded with new schools and associated facilities. Growth has been accommodated thus far, but it looks like more will have to be done sooner than was expected. In that regard, yet another elementary school is under consideration, while the newest one is not yet completed, because other new schools already are at or near capacity. A second high school will be fully up and running soon, but long-range (maybe not so long-range) projections suggest the need for a third high school by 2020.

None of these developments is a complete surprise for observers of West Fargo schools. The school district’s growth (including that part of the school district in Fargo’s city limits) has been rapid and shows no signs of slowing down. West Fargo is among the youngest cities in the region, so young families with children will drive the need for more classroom space and school recreational space.

West Fargo school officials have been able to gain support of school district patrons to do what had to be done. It’s been expensive; additional buildings will be expensive, too. But the need clearly is there. West Fargo has an excellent school system because school officials and district patrons have been willing to address needs quickly and responsibly.

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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.