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School sketch discussed

The Fargo School Board got its first look at preliminary architectural sketches for Davies High School during a retreat Saturday. The board also debated options to funnel southside students into South and Davies high schools by 2011. The target s...

Graphic: Davies High School prelimanary plan

The Fargo School Board got its first look at preliminary architectural sketches for Davies High School during a retreat Saturday.

The board also debated options to funnel southside students into South and Davies high schools by 2011.

The target size for Davies is 270,000 square feet, said Dan Huffman, assistant superintendent for business services. Space requests come out to about 272,470 square feet, he told the board.

The school, expected to cost more than $44 million, would sit just southeast of 25th Street and 70th Avenue South.

Athletic fields, a track, pool and water retention pond would be east and south of the school, Huffman said. About 20 acres on the northeast side of the property can hold an elementary school, he said.

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The plan calls for a two-story main academic wing. The first floor would house a ninth-grade academy, ninth- and 10th-grade alternative education, English Language Learners, foreign language, and special education services, Huffman said. Administrative offices, lockers and other offices dominate the center.

The second floor has visual arts and a media center sited between science and math on the west side, and language arts and social sciences on the east, Huffman said.

South of that wing is a commons/lunch area. It also acts as an entry for the auditorium and varsity gym. The rest of the building is given over to theater, music, construction and trades, locker rooms, gyms and exercise facilities.

Plans include an eight-lane pool with diving area. An outdoor pool is planned with the Park District. Space is also available for a Park District gymnasium addition, Huffman said, with the possibility of a running track above the gyms, he said.

Board member Paul Meyers said too much space is being devoted to athletics and not enough to academics.

Board President Robin Nelson disagreed.

"The curriculum is absolutely driving this facility," she said.

Administrators also recommended three options for readying southside students to be divided into two schools. Two options would open Davies with three grades, the other with four grades.

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E The option favored by student focus groups calls for South Campus II to house ninth-graders from Carl Ben Eielson and Discovery middle schools through 2009-10. In 2010-11, SCII would then house Discovery's ninth- and 10th-graders, with all other southside students going to South. In 2011, Davies would open with grades 9-11 and South with 9-12.

E Another option calls for ninth-graders from both middle schools to go to SCII through 2010-11. Tenth-graders from both middle schools would continue at South. In 2011, Davies would open with grades 9-11 and South with 9-12.

E The third option calls for heavy use of SCII. Next year, all southside ninth-graders would attend SCII. In 2009-10, ninth- and 10th-graders from the Discovery area would attend SCII. The remaining students would attend South. In 2010-11, ninth through 11th-graders from the Discovery area would attend SCII. In 2011, both Davies and South would open with four grades.

In a wide-ranging discussion, board member Rick Steen warned against "overbuilding" SCII, parts of which are nearly 100 years old.

Dinah Goldenberg said she wanted "the decision to be made by what's best for academics" and not just sports.

Administrators said extracurricular activities help keep students in school.

"It really is an identity issue," said Lowell Wolff, assistant superintendent for communication and planning.

The board told administrators to present two to three revised plans Tuesday. Both three-grade and four-grade openings for Davies need to be in the options, they said.

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The board may then choose one plan, or contrasting plans, to present to the community March 11, Nelson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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