West Fargo elementary school boundaries to change
A temporary fix for growing pains in West Fargo is going to be a pain to some parents. The school board unanimously decided Monday to change some elementary school boundary lines this fall to address overcrowding and better use space. However, fo...
A temporary fix for growing pains in West Fargo is going to be a pain to some parents.
The school board unanimously decided Monday to change some elementary school boundary lines this fall to address overcrowding and better use space.
However, for Mark McQuillan and the 150 elementary school families who will be affected, it isn't welcomed news.
"I think they blew it," said McQuillan, whose first-grade son will now go to his third school in three years next fall. "I think they made a decision just to make a decision."
District officials defended the decision on Monday, though, as a practical, pragmatic decision for the state's fastest growing school district.
"You can't do nothing," Superintendent Dana Diesel Wallace said, adding that the shift in population from north West Fargo to the south side has posed a "difficult reality."
"You have to be pragmatic ... you've got to find space to put the kids," she said. "This boundary change isn't a perfect plan ... it's a practical plan."
The board voted 6-0 to make the changes; board member Patti Stedman was absent.
This fall, students will be reshuffled to fill classrooms at six of nine elementary and kindergarten schools, better utilizing space, board President Tom Gentzkow said.
"As taxpayers, we hope they respect that," he said.
Letters will likely be sent out this week to notify parents, he added; parents with questions can contact the district office.
"Yes, it's going to make people unhappy," board member Duane Hanson said. "They should have thought about that a little more during the bond issue."
After two building referendums failed this year, board members talked this month about the changes being a temporary fix.
They also discussed meeting with parents to discuss changes, which Gentzkow said they would've done, but wanted to make a decision before school ends this week.
Doing so, officials said, will give parents and principals plenty of notice of where students will attend school instead of assigning students based on where there's space in August.
If voters eventually approve building a new elementary school, boundary changes could be altered again, Gentzkow said.
"This is just a constant cycle that our district is going to go through for quite a number of years," he added.
For Aurora Elementary School Principal Carol Zent, the changes won't fix everything for her school, which is at capacity.
"We're still going to struggle with overpopulation at Aurora," she said.
That's why board members are also looking to expand her school, Horace Elementary or Osgood Kindergarten Center.
Construction could start as soon as this fall, Gentzkow said.
On Monday, the board unanimously approved applying for $5 million in federal Qualified School Construction Bonds, which essentially will allow the district to do a project interest-free.
Monday was also Diesel Wallace's last board meeting in West Fargo.
"Thank you for your service," board Vice President Karen Nitzkorski told her. "We've learned a lot from you."
The board gave Diesel Wallace, who leaves June 30, a standing ovation.
"I've enjoyed about 95 percent of the ride," Diesel Wallace said. "Wouldn't change much at all."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515