Oak Grove finds interest in plan
Nearly 50 people turned out Tuesday for the first public meeting to gauge interest in a new Oak Grove Lutheran elementary school in south Fargo. Members of the executive committee who will offer a recommendation to the Oak Grove Board of Regents ...
Nearly 50 people turned out Tuesday for the first public meeting to gauge interest in a new Oak Grove Lutheran elementary school in south Fargo.
Members of the executive committee who will offer a recommendation to the Oak Grove Board of Regents liked what they saw and heard.
"I'm very encouraged by the flavor of the meeting," said Morgan Forness, executive committee member and Oak Grove dean of students. "There is an interest in expanding Christian education in this area."
Jan Wigen, chairwoman for the Board of Regents, said the committee must make a decision by mid-July for the K-5 school to open this fall.
"There is a request and a need to open an elementary in south Fargo," said Wigen, who added that class sizes would be around 10. "We get calls daily."
There are a number of issues the committee will consider before giving its recommendation - notably interest and financial feasibility, Wigen said.
The school has used marketing studies, word-of-mouth advertising and direct mail to gauge interest, in addition to public meetings, Wigen said.
At the end of Tuesday's meeting at Olivet Lutheran Church, a poll of families in attendance showed that at least 21 children would be interested in attending the new school.
Wigen said tuition - between $3,100 and $4,100 per year - for the elementary school would be comparable to Christian schools around the area.
"We're hoping the school is self-sustaining once the program is up and going," Wigen said.
But Forness added that the committee also recognizes the school may not be self-sufficient right away, and that a three-year growth plan may be put in place.
Committee members are considering three or four locations for the new school, but Wigen said the old Sullivan school building at 2720 32nd Ave. S. seems likely because it is a move-in site. Churches in south Fargo are also being considered, Forness said.
"It needs new carpet and paint, and some wiring and maintenance, but there's plenty of space for what we need," Wigen said of the old Sullivan school building. "But the concern we have is it does not have green space for children."
Jon Gossett, a teacher at Ben Franklin Junior High who has three children in grades three, five and six, said the new elementary school would be a better fit for his family than its public counterpart.
"We like the small class sizes," said Gossett, whose eldest will begin sixth grade at Oak Grove this fall. "The No. 1 thing is to be able to have our children at a school where they're encouraged to grow their faith."
Oak Grove's current campus at 124 N. Terrace in north Fargo has roughly 278 students for grades six through 12. The school added sixth grade in 1998.
Oak Grove's reputation for preparing students for college, Gossett said, was another factor in enrolling his children in the school.
"Absolutely, no doubt in my mind," that the proposed south Fargo elementary school is a good idea, Gossett said.
Oak Grove Lutheran School will hold another informative meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Hope Lutheran Church South, 3636 25th St. S.
"Once we get a decision, we'll be hitting the ground running," Forness said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Joe Whetham at (701) 241-5557