Fargo, W. Fargo eye building, tax base issues
West Fargo School District administrators will watch their pennies -- all $31.5 million worth -- in 2003. District voters overwhelmingly approved a $31.5 million school bond referendum last spring. The money will be spent to build a middle school...
West Fargo School District administrators will watch their pennies -- all $31.5 million worth -- in 2003.
District voters overwhelmingly approved a $31.5 million school bond referendum last spring. The money will be spent to build a middle school and to make additions and renovations to all six elementary schools.
But construction bids are coming in higher than expected, so administrators are searching for ways to reduce costs without sacrificing anything vital. That includes substituting less-expensive tile and carpeting in building plans.
"We're working hard on this and we'll stay within our budget," said Superintendent Chuck Cheney.
The district should have a better handle on costs after bids for the middle school are taken Feb. 13. The base construction bid is pegged at $19 million. The project has several options, including a multipurpose room and improved flooring, which would add about $600,000 to the cost.
Another issue West Fargo administrators will watch carefully next year:
The 2003 state Legislature may consider revamping the shared Fargo and West Fargo school district boundary. The boundary hasn't changed since 1973, even as Fargo has grown to the west and south. Today, nearly half of the West Fargo district's local tax revenue comes from property in Fargo, primarily in the West Acres shopping center area.
Cheney said the West Fargo district is talking with legislators to make certain its interests are protected.
"We're going to be part of the process," he said.
Lowell Wolff, administrator of public relations and planning for the Fargo School District, said the current arrangement isn't fair.
He said he's hopeful school funding in the community can be made more equitable.
Public schools also must deal with the federal No Child Left Behind initiative, which calls for 100 percent high school graduation and stringent annual testing of public school students. Schools that fall short risk losing federal funding.
Local school administrators say still-to-be-resolved details of the initiative could have a big effect in 2003 and beyond.
"It will be interesting to see the ramifications of these regulations as they work out," Wolff said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530