West Fargo residents' reaction mixed on referendum
If a meeting Tuesday is any indication, West Fargo's March 23 school building referendum may be close. About 60 voters voiced both concern and support at a meeting on the $40 million referendum. If it passes, the district will build a new, second...
If a meeting Tuesday is any indication, West Fargo's March 23 school building referendum may be close.
About 60 voters voiced both concern and support at a meeting on the $40 million referendum. If it passes, the district will build a new, second high school and a new elementary school.
"They do a good job doing their research," parent John Rutten said about the school board. "It needs to happen. I'm disappointed it didn't pass the last time."
Officials went to voters last June for a $65 million referendum, and while it garnered 51 percent approval, it fell short of the 60 percent support needed to build new schools.
Now, the pared-down, reduced-price referendum is still going to be a tough sell for residents like Dave Olson.
"This plan is a watered-down version of the original plan," said Olson, a longtime West Fargo resident who has two students in the district. "What they're doing is a stop-gap, really. This community is going to be building-rich and poor in other ways."
Olson and resident Dan Levin said they're concerned that, after the district builds a second high school, it won't be prepared to provide the same facilities for the new school that the current school has.
"We don't take care of the facilities we got," Levin added.
Now, school officials have the next three weeks to convince opponents like them and get the word out to others about the vote.
"We have spent the last two years really digging into the data," board Vice President Karen Nitzkorski said, citing escalating enrollment, community input meetings and surveys. "We believe ... in this plan."
Officials will meet again Thursday in the last of three public forums on the building plan.
The meeting takes place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Cheney Middle School - one of the schools that officials say is at capacity and needs relief soon.
The district projects that, by 2014, they'll have up to 1,800 more students in the district and a need for an additional 78 classrooms.
"We are saying, 'Where are we going to put them?' " Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis said. "It's a challenge for us."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515