Akers: One, we could re-align our boundaries in the district. Or, we could let the parents start using reciprocity to let the children go to another school. Or, come up with the funds and build a new school.
Bourdon: I don't have a plan to accommodate the increases, but I do believe that the first plan that was presented to the West Fargo community and was voted down was a very good plan; the administration and school board did not do their job to answer questions and concerns, or to make adjustments prior to putting the plan to a vote. As it stands now, I would take a very close look at the two plans that were defeated, review the concerns and complaints of the community and staff, and develop a hybrid of the two plans.
Colter: I answered this question in many ways. As I stated in Question 2, sooner or later the district is going to run out of room and there will be two options: bring in portable classrooms around the schools or build schools to accommodate the need. If school buildings become too overcrowded, then the quality of education will suffer. This is a fact that has been proven over the years nationwide. When students and teachers don't have the space needed for a healthy learning/work environment, this will be a detriment to all involved sooner than later. We need to come up with solutions that the public will support at a supermajority level to adequately take care of classroom crowding issues so our students' education doesn't go down a negative road.
Durbin: The district will have to make sure that all available classrooms are being used until a bond referendum is passed. We need to research public opinion and actively be seeking input from the community.
Hawley: Short term and long term planning is a necessity. Processes already are in place to address this issue. The re-drawing of school boundaries is taking place right now, and is a viable option. Part of the problem is that we can re-draw these boundaries now, but we still have no idea how many people will move into (or leave) any given part of the district over the summer.
Schools have been as proactive as they can be with early pre-registration for the 2010-11 school year, so that they can have some idea of what they will have for students in their specific schools From there, it is a waiting game. We also do not know how many people will join our district throughout the coming years, but we do know one thing for certain: they will, and this space issue will not go away.
There are dollars currently available to the district to add onto present schools (and to possibly help fund the building of new schools without a bond referendum). A thorough investigation into the stipulations that come with these dollars is necessary, and could provide some short-term releif (within a year) to the situation. Time is of the essence right now if we wish to utilize these dollars and break ground.
Korsmo: There are a variety of solutions, none of which will be satisfactory to everyone. To solve the space problem for the immediate future, we need to look at using district space more efficiently; this could be increasing the number of students in each classroom and possibly transporting some students to other areas where there is available classroom space, or other solutions yet to be determined. For the long-term needs of the district we must have a clearly thought-out long-range building plan.
Kvaale: This has to be a collaborative effort between parents, administrators, staff and school board. For a short term solution, find available classrooms and use them to relieve the over crowding at some of our schools. Ideally this plan should avoid moving students from their neighborhood schools as much as possible. Building on to some of the elementary schools will temporarily help address the increase in enrollment. If a solution is going to include a change in the boundary lines, the community needs to be well-informed of the changes and be encouraged to "have a voice." We have to keep in mind the goal is to provide our students the best possible learning environment.
Loos: Long term, West Fargo needs two high schools. One mega high school is not good for kids for a number of reasons. They limit participation in extracurricular activities, have lower student moral and have higher dropout rates. My long term plan is as follows:
1. Eliminate the kindergarten centers. Turn the kindergarten centers into new elementary schools by adding additional classrooms, a gym and other facilities (at Osgood).
2. Turn the Ninth Grade Center into a south middle school.
3. Build a new south-side high school.
McDougall: I would like to see two 9-12 High Schools, two 6-8 Middle Schools, and one additional 1-5 Elementary school. If built correctly, this would provide the capacity to handle foreseeable student growth through approximately 2025 or beyond.
Nitzkorski: In the short term, we need to find resources to create more space. Some funding sources recently have become available from the federal government that may allow us to add on to a current school.
In the long term, we need to build the schools that provide the most opportunities for our students. We need to do it economically. We need to enlist the help of our community in determining what the best schools are for our students. As a board member, I believe that we had two excellent plans for students. Some voters thought otherwise, so we need to listen to them carefully and find solutions that more voters find acceptable.
Olson: I would provide this plan for an example but I am not limited to it:
A. Use stimulus money and sign up for zero-interest loans from our state to upgrade current facilities. Some examples of district facilities that need upgrading or fixing are: Berger track, HVAC system at current high school, and outside facilities at both Cheney Middle School and Ninth grade academy.
B. After exhaustive public input and financial budgeting, go to the public with a referendum that will build a new grade school on the south side of 52nd avenue south. Construct a second building on land the district already owns containing the ninth grade. I call it a transitional school. This school would have grades 9-10, while the current high school would have grades 11-12. Turn the current ninth grade academy into a second middle school with grades 6-8. With this proposal, we set a target number (2700 students 9-12 for example) of students grades 9-12 that, when reached, we move to a two high school setting. This target number, if set right, will allow us time to plan and fund equal programs for both high schools.
Sahli: Everyone wants the best for their kids. I do. But with that comes my want to see more space, but more so, I want to see good teachers and if needed, more teachers in those crowded classrooms to drop the student-to-teacher ratio. I have taught in some of the most creative locations, and my students were going off to places where it was life and death. We made it happen, and when students were trained, where they learned was never the biggest concern, but rather what they learned.
Simonson: As we continue to explore the option of building buildings, I do not think that boundary changes or reconfiguring schools is necessarily the solution. My youngest daughter went to seven different schools in the Fargo school system and we did not move. This was difficult on her whole class, both socially and academically. I believe that we need to look at all solutions possible before we start shuffling students around. No one likes the thought of portables, but they have been used successfully as a temporary solution in other districts. Are there ways that the space in the existing buildings can be reconfigured? As a school board, we will need to work with administrators and teachers to explore possible solutions for housing students until the voters decide that we need to build.