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Fargo parents express concern about potential boundary changes

Stacey Piechowski, parent of students at Discovery Middle School and Davies High School, addresses the board Tuesday, Feb. 13. Parents primarily from the Woodhaven and West Pointe neighborhoods expressed concern about potential boundary changes to address overcrowding. Kim Hyatt / The Forum

FARGO — At a packed school board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 13, dozens of parents attended to express concern about potential boundary changes to address future overcrowding.

Though overcrowding isn't currently an issue in the district's schools, demographers anticipate Davies High School and Discovery Middle School experiencing significant growth in enrollment.

Over a work retreat last week, the Board of Education discussed long-range facility planning that involved attendance boundary scenarios for projected capacity issues. The board is also considering how to finance expansion of the two affected schools, but nothing is being recommended at this time.

Several parents living in the Pointe West and Woodhaven neighborhoods voiced their opposition to changes that could involve sending their children to different schools. The neighborhoods' northern border is 32nd Avenue South. The southern border is 52nd Avenue South. The eastern border is Interstate 29 and the western border is 45th Street.

Shannon Voeller lives with her family in Woodhaven and said she chose the neighborhood so her children could attend Davies. She said as parents it's their right to be involved in the discussions "however early it may be."

"I as well as many others are extremely frustrated by the board's attempt to deflect the importance of the existence of these proposals and continuing to suggest we are overreacting," Voeller said.

As some of the proposals indicate, boundary changes could involve Davies students shifting to South High School. Voeller said of the top-ranked North Dakota schools in 2017, Davies is No. 2, Fargo North is No.3, but South didn't make the list. "Until the board is able to address why Fargo South is not achieving the same levels of success the other high schools are, then whether it is today or two years from now, our stance will not change," she said.

Other parents expressed worries about traffic and safety with their teenagers driving farther than anticipated when moving to the area. Kyle Meyer said splitting up established relationships made through school and sports was also a major concern of potential boundary changes.

President Jim Johnson said the board has not met since the retreat and no decisions have been made about boundary changes. He said the board looks at maps of southside enrollment numbers every year and the data suggests overcrowding won't occur for three to seven years.

"I can assure you this board is committed to transparency and public input and both of those will be front and center when and if we have an issue of boundaries to adjust," Johnson said.

Johnson said there are no immediate changes or decisions and any discussions regarding boundary change will be in a public setting.

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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