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Fargo schools eye possible consolidation of 3 elementary campuses

According to the school district's updated long-range facility plan approved Tuesday, the cost required to provide secure entries to Horace Mann and Roosevelt has rekindled earlier conversations about the needs of the aging buildings.

Roosevelt Elementary teachers helping students maintain social distancing guidelines while boarding the schoolbus on the first day of the 2020 to 2021 school year.jpg
Roosevelt Elementary teachers helping students maintain social distancing guidelines while boarding the school bus on the first day of the 2020-2021 school year. C.S. Hagen / The Forum
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FARGO — On Tuesday, Sept. 27, the Fargo School Board approved an updated long-range facility plan that includes a call to research the possibility of consolidating elementary campuses.

Consolidation plans include combining Horace Mann and Roosevelt elementary schools and possibly the Madison Elementary campus into one new building that might be built on the site of the Horace Mann property.

Horace Mann and Roosevelt are currently a paired campus.

According to the updated long-range facility plan approved Tuesday, the above-average cost that would be required to provide secure entries to Horace Mann and Roosevelt has rekindled earlier conversations about the needs of the aging buildings.

092822.N.FF.Fargo boundsWEB new one.jpg
Forum graphic by Troy Becker.

School administrators and the school board's planning committee recently discussed potential future repair costs or replacement of Horace Mann and Roosevelt.

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Those conversations led to a recommendation to the planning committee that the district look into the possibility of consolidating Horace Mann and Roosevelt, and potentially Madison Elementary, into one new building that might be located on the Horace Mann site.

Youngsters from the Horace Mann Elementary neighborhood participate in a Scandinavian game of Koob Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, during the Horace Mann centennial celebration. David Samson / The Forum
Youngsters from the Horace Mann Elementary neighborhood participate in a Scandinavian game of Koob Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, during the Horace Mann centennial celebration. David Samson / The Forum

Board member Jim Johnson said at Tuesday's meeting that the idea is not a project that is being recommended, but instead was only one possible way of thinking about the future of the three elementary schools.

The district's long-range facility plan, which is reviewed annually, helps the district in a number of ways, including the decision-making process when trying to spread enrollment across schools to prevent overcrowding.

Board member Robin Nelson echoed Johnson Tuesday night, stating that just because an idea is included in the long-range plan doesn't mean it is "set in stone."

Roosevelt Elementary marked a century of serving students with a Centennial Anniversary Celebration in May.

According to online information created by the North Dakota State University library, the current Roosevelt building was built between 1919 and 1921 and was occupied in 1922 as a junior high.

Historical references indicate an earlier, original Roosevelt school building existed as early as at least 1906 just north of the school's present location and housed grades 1-8 in its early years.

When Ben Franklin Junior High School opened in 1952, the current Roosevelt building was converted into an elementary school and the original structure was leased to the government as an air defense center.

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Later, the original building became an education site for developmentally disabled adults before it was ultimately torn down in the early 1970s, according to the NDSU library website.

According to information provided by Fargo Public Schools, the current Roosevelt building received two additions over the years, including an elevator and computer room in 1995, and a gymnasium in 1998.

Roosevelt has been paired with Horace Mann Elementary School since 2008. Students in grades K-1 from both neighborhoods attend Horace Mann, while students in grades 2-5 attend Roosevelt.

Madison Elementary, seen Friday, Aug. 3, in Fargo, will offer free breakfast and lunch to all students. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Madison Elementary School in Fargo. Forum file photo

In addition to calling for research into possible futures for Horace Mann, Roosevelt and Madison elementary schools, the district's newly updated long-range facility plan also addresses the potential for the school district to add a new middle school, high school and elementary school in south Fargo at some point during the next 10 years.

School officials have said the next steps are to meet with real estate agents and lawyers to finalize land purchases.

Any newly purchased land will likely be located west of Interstate 29 for a future elementary and high school site, according to the long-range facility plan.

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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