FARGO — The Fargo School Board is considering building a new middle school to address overcrowding issues at Davies High School and Discovery Middle School.
On Tuesday evening, the Fargo School Board continued its discussion of options to address projected enrollment increases. The board dismissed year-round school for capacity issues. Boundary changes are still on the table, but several board members emphasized the need for a permanent solution to capacity issues, not a temporary fix.
“The three options are Band-Aid fixes,” Board Member Jim Johnson said.
The board spent the majority of the session discussing the possibility of constructing a new middle school south of Davies on land the district already owns. It would take at least two years to build a school, and cost roughly $40 million, according to Superintendent Rupak Gandhi. A memo distributed to the board projected the cost at $52.6 million.
The new school would eventually be a middle school feeding into Davies High School. It would, however, be used as a temporary school for eighth and ninth-graders, alleviating overcrowding at Discovery and Davies.
Several board members emphasized the need for keeping neighborhoods and communities together. Board member Kristi Ulrich said she liked the idea of students being together from kindergarten to 12th grade.
This helps build community and neighborhoods, Ulrich said.
“You’re a Bruin and you’re a Bruin all the way through,” she said.
Previously, the board asked the administration to provide information on three solutions for overcrowding. These solutions included year-round school, creative space options and boundary changes. The earlier creative space option included temporarily housing ninth-graders at South High School. However, this solution did not address overcrowding at Discovery, which is why the board emphasized the new school as a temporary space for eighth- and ninth-graders.
Johnson brought up several questions about the new school project, including whether Fargo would need to issue a bond to raise funds and if the city could bring infrastructure to the land. The board asked the administration to research these questions and return to a later meeting with more concrete details.
While the board has discussed overcrowding since February 2018, Johnson said there would be several years before overcrowding really became an issue in the schools.
“We have two to three years before we’ll feel overcrowding,” Johnson said. “We need the right solution for the long run. We have time to decide to build the school.”
The board plans to further discuss the possibility of a new school at the next board meeting.
Readers can reach education reporter Emma Beyer, a Report For America corps member, at 701-241-5535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.