FARGO — The Fargo Public Schools Board of Education passed the first reading with a vote of 7-2 for a boundary change in south Fargo that would move 37 elementary students to a new school.

Board members Seth Holden, Tracie Newman, Robin Nelson, Jim Johnson, Rebecca Knutson, Nikkie Gullickson and Brian Nelson voted in favor of the motion, which will give two weeks to allow for public input before a final vote is made during the Nov. 9 board meeting.

Board members Jennifer Benson and David Paulson cast the dissenting votes.

Saying the public needed more time to allow for input, Benson and Paulson made a motion to postpone the first reading and for the boundary change to be discussed at the planning committee level, but the request was voted down.

The next planning committee meeting is slated for Nov. 23, which would have ultimately postponed the final decision by two weeks or more.

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On Sept. 21, the boundary change issue was discussed during a Fargo School Board work session, where board members contemplated such options as boundary changes and building a new school to alleviate overcrowding at Davies High.

Currently, Bennett Elementary School has 637 students, which makes it the largest elementary school in the district in the fastest-growing section of the city, said associate superintendents Robert Grosz and Missy Eidsness.

To alleviate overcrowding, current and future Bennett Elementary students in the affected area would go to Centennial Elementary School starting in the 2022-2023 school year if the plan is passed during the second reading on Nov. 9.

“This is also a very fast-growing area of town, so as more homes become built that number will certainly increase, and we’re looking at the capacity that this will provide to Bennett as other portions of the Bennett catch area continue to grow,” Grosz said.

“If today those students changed boundaries, there would still be room at Bennett Elementary for about 111 more elementary-aged students, and at Centennial, approximately 77. Now, we know that changes each month, as families move in and out of our community and new homes are purchased,” Grosz said.

Benson expressed worries about transportation to and from school and moved to postpone the motion because she felt more discussion was needed.

“It would be a better process if we were able to ask questions in committee,” Benson said. “When you’re making a move for families, this is a really big deal, and we can confidently say we won’t do this again in a year or two in the same area.”