West Fargo's newest elementary school won't be ready by fall, but prep work for its future continues
Although easing the crowding at other schools will be delayed, West Fargo Public Schools continues to plan ahead, approving the hiring process for a principal and roughly 10 teachers for new school.
WEST FARGO — West Fargo's hopes for its newest elementary school to be completed by the fall of 2023 have come up short, leaving about 415 students in their current elementary schools that are already busting at the seams.
Meadowlark Elementary School, which is under construction in the Rocking Horse neighborhood in Fargo, will not be finished by this fall. When construction began back in the spring of 2022, administrators hoped it could be finished in time for the 2023-2024 school year.
However labor shortages, supply issues and the overall construction climate created a tight and challenging deadline, one administrators knew would be difficult to overcome.
Although easing the crowding at other elementary schools like Independence, Aurora and Freedom won't happen next year, West Fargo Public Schools continues to plan ahead after approving the hiring process for a principal and roughly 10 teachers for the new school on Monday, Feb. 27.
The district expects nearly 300 new students this fall.
Superintendent Beth Slette said the numbers coming in could be conservative. "We have 286 kids coming....so let's just go ahead and hire teachers," she said.
Although the new school won't be coming next year, a new slate of children will. "And as those children are coming, we'd like to provide support to those schools that we know are going to have a really large capacity," Slette said.
In addition to the teachers, hiring a new principal now will allow the person to begin setting the groundwork for the school when it does open, according to Slette.
The principal can help form a PTA/O and determine the mascot, colors, team planning, playground and construction detail. The school's leader can also identify future students who will be required to attend Aurora, Deer Creek, Freedom and Independence elementary schools while awaiting Meadowlark's completion.
The school board on Monday also approved changing the responsibility classification of activities directors or coordinators to address salary concerns.
In July 2022, West Fargo Public Schools hired its first district activities director, charged with overseeing the activities departments across the district.
Staff and public concerns at the time, however, said it would be unfair to the current activities coordinators when calculating salaries based on responsibilities.
Others were concerned the new position would eliminate coordinator positions at the school level, which is not the case. Activities coordinators remain at both West Fargo and Sheyenne high schools.
After studying other district models, Slette requested Monday that the responsibility level for activities coordinators at the school level be raised from 20 to 23. The responsibility level is one below what some of the individual coordinators had formerly reached, and is also just one step below the district director, who will have additional responsibilities.
"So they are just one step below the activities director," Slette said.
An additional social worker was hired with the board's approval on Monday as well, who will begin immediately.
Human Resources Director Brittnee Nikle said the social workers accept referrals from any teacher, administrator and counselor through an online referral form. The team tracks the students they are serving each year and uses the data to evaluate the social worker program.
Readers can reach reporter Wendy Reuer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 701-241-5530 . Follow her on Twitter @ForumWendy .