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Board: Discovery can be converted

Discovery can serve the district well as a future middle school or high school, Fargo School District administrators told the board Tuesday. The final decision depends on what criteria the board uses to make it. "We can make the board's vision wo...

Discovery can serve the district well as a future middle school or high school, Fargo School District administrators told the board Tuesday.

The final decision depends on what criteria the board uses to make it.

"We can make the board's vision work either way," said Superintendent David Flowers. "The building is flexible."

Before making a decision, School Board members said they still want more information, including more detailed drawings of what the footprints of each school on each site would look like.

Since May, the School Board has discussed whether to convert Discovery into the district's next high school and build a middle school near 52nd Avenue South and Interstate 29. The other option is to do the reverse.

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Although the new schools likely won't open until 2012, the decision is important because it affects boundaries and ninth-grade transition issues, questions which need to be answered by the time Carl Ben Eielson Middle School opens in 2006.

The decision also is part of the long-range facility plan, which is moving the district toward identical grade configurations -- K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

Converting Discovery into a high school would likely require more additions than renovations, school district staff said. The school's five-classroom clusters or pods already fit the high school models of the future, which stress smaller learning communities, Flowers said. Fargo North High School already has been renovated into a similar arrangement, he said.

Converting Discovery into a middle school would require renovation to fit the district's philosophy of middle level education, said Dan Huffman, business administrator. Carl Ben Eielson Middle School is designed for three-teacher teams in the sixth grade and four-teacher teams in grades seven and eight. Discovery's five-classroom pods won't work as well for instruction, he said.

Staff also presented the following information to answer previous board questions:

- The Discovery site is 33.3 acres, but because it is a two-story building, there is more than 30 acres of land for green space, parking and amenities. Net space at South High is about 30 acres. Net space at North is 27.5 acres.

- The district does not plan to fund competitive venues for every activity at all three schools. For example, football practice fields would be available at all three sites, but the North or South fields would accommodate all home football games. Board members agreed with the philosophy.

- About 40 acres of land near the 52nd Avenue South site is zoned for commercial development.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Erin Hemme Froslie at (701) 241-5534

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