As the city of Fargo continues to grow, school enrollment also increases, The public school district must prepare to handle the increased student numbers through new construction or boundary adjustments or both.
North Dakota is in the midst of an economic boom. Business is strong and unemployment is low. Cities across the state are growing. As Fargo grows, we see that school enrollment is stabilizing at north side schools and reaching capacity at south side schools, where most of the physical growth of the city is happening. The situation is similar to a parent with a constantly growing and maturing child – it’s time (again) to buy the baby a new wardrobe as they outgrow their current clothes.
Fargo school enrollment analysis, conducted by independent consultants RSP & Associates, has projected district-wide enrollment growth for the foreseeable future. The District’s current total enrollment of 11,026 (December 2014) is projected to be 11,698 by Fall 2018, with many south side schools at or over enrollment capacity.
In November 2013, Fargo Public Schools (FPS) updated their Long Range Facility Plan. The construction of Ed Clapp Elementary School, located at 31st Avenue and 28th Street South and set to open fall 2015, is a direct response to the growing enrollment numbers on the south side of Fargo. The new school will accommodate around 550 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
With the addition of Ed Clapp Elementary, FPS is now comprised of 16 elementary schools, three middle schools, three comprehensive high schools, and one alternative high school. And, just like when welcoming a new baby to the family, adjustments and accommodations need to occur to make the addition a successful one. Elementary boundaries on the south side of Fargo were adjusted and will take effect fall 2015 to accommodate the new school, balance out enrollment numbers across all south side schools, and plan for continued enrollment growth. “Our goal is to provide a high quality education to all of our students, ensuring equitable access to academic programming at each school,” stated Dr. Robert Grosz, associate superintendent of Teaching and Learning.
In June 2014, the Fargo Board of Education approved boundary changes for Fargo Public Schools’ elementary schools effective in the fall of 2015. The adjusted school boundaries set the attendance area for Ed Clapp Elementary, reduced the number of students at Lewis & Clark Elementary and Lincoln Elementary, and provided for future growth at Kennedy Elementary, Bennett Elementary and Centennial Elementary. Schools affected by the new attendance boundaries are: Bennett, Centennial, Kennedy, Lewis & Clark, and Lincoln Elementary Schools. (If a school is not listed, there are no changes to that elementary school’s boundaries.)
The new boundaries were determined through a multi-phase process. “Using the Guiding Principles outlined in the Long Range Facility Plan, we went through multiple drafts, inputting many variables and considering many designs, to ultimately define an equitable system for all the schools and students,” shared Associate Superintendent Grosz.
While the transition to these new school boundaries is not without some uncomfortable moments, the benefits for the students and families affected by the new boundaries are substantial. “Overcrowding at some schools is alleviated, and capacity is created to allow other buildings to fill back in as city growth continues,” said Grosz. This maintains lower classroom sizes and more efficiently uses our district buildings and school resources.
Grosz also shared, “With the addition of Ed Clapp, we will create another ‘neighborhood’ school. This allows more students to walk or ride their bicycles to school, rather than having to take the bus.” The boundary adjustment extends that neighborhood concept to more FPS elementary schools with the realigned boundaries. “A neighborhood school creates a real sense of community, both physically and through the work of our staff and instructors. We want to continue to offer all Fargo Public School students a culture of welcome in a caring learning environment.”
FPS school boundary maps and resources are available online at www.fargo.k12.nd.us/boundarymaps, and include a GuideK12 Address Look-up Database Tool to determine which school your address is assigned. You will need your exact street address to input in the look-up tool. If you have any questions regarding addresses for school assignment, you may also call 701.446.1043.