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School board approves outline for six-year plan

The West Fargo School Board adopted an outline for a six-year building plan during their April 27th board meeting. Earlier this month, the board approved a resolution calling for a special election seeking to secure school building bonds in the amount of $65 million.

If approved, the bonds will fund several building projects throughout the district. The adopted outline was developed by the board's Planning and Development Committee to help explain the proposed building projects and construction timelines. The adopted outline will be printed at the end of this article to help our readers understand the timeline for construction.

The decision to build a new elementary school first surprised some board members. Superintendent Dana Diesel Wallace reminded board members that, although the biggest space needs in the district are currently at the middle school and high school levels, the district's short-term plan to relocate some of Cheney Middle School's student body to other locations in the district will provide a temporary solution at that level.

Meanwhile, by using the same basic blueprint for the new elementary school as was used at Aurora Elementary, representatives from YHR Design's architectural team believe that the construction and design process for the new elementary school could be streamlined into a one-year time span, making it the most feasible project to start out with to get the projects rolling.

By staggering the construction of the building projects and selling the bonds only as they are needed, the district would be able to continue to carefully monitor enrollment growth patterns to help to determine the greatest needs of the district, and adjust building plans accordingly.

A community open forum will be held on May 13 at Cheney Middle School. Additional meetings will be held on May 14 at South Elementary; May 18 at Westside Elementary; May 19 at West Fargo High School; and on May 21 at the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center. All meetings are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Residents are encouraged to attend the meetings to learn more about the proposed building projects.

In other action, the board voted unanimously to authorize the district to hire an equivalent of 42.5 new full-time positions for the 2009-2010 school year, including 19 at the elementary level; 14 at the secondary level; and the equivalent of 9.5 for special education positions. Half of the positions would be funded through the district's general fund, while the other half would be contingent on federal funding availability through Title 1 and IDEA programs. If, in the case that federal funding is not renewed, the requests will be brought back to the board for action.

The board also approved bids for over $60,000 of fitness equipment from two Fargo vendors. The equipment is to be purchased with PEP Grant funds as part of the $1.2 million Physical Education for Progress Grant program awarded to the district over a three-year period.

It was also announced that Tabatha Joyce, a fifth-grade teacher at Westside Elementary, has been hired as the new Interim Assistant Principal for the middle school position at the Lodoen Center. She was granted a two-year leave of absence from her teaching position in order to accept the position.

An informal meet and greet session will kick off the negotiations between the West Fargo School District and West Fargo Education Association members, on May 4 at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held in the Leidal Education Center boardroom.

A panel of West Fargo school district staff members met with representatives from the Village Business Institute on April 22 to help develop questions for the district-wide morale survey. A total of 41 questions were selected by the group. The survey process will be ready to begin on May 8.

Immediately following the regular board meeting, the school board convened in executive session to discuss upcoming the negotiations sessions.

The next board meeting will be held on May 11 at West Fargo High School, beginning at 6 p.m. A Committee of the Whole meeting is scheduled at 5:30 p.m.

Outline for development of 2009-15 Facilities Plan

(Compiled by Dana Diesel Wallace and the Planning and Development Committee)

The development of West Fargo Public School's 2009-2015 Facilities Plan began a year ago in discussions with the board committee for Planning and Development. Subsequent discussions last spring and summer were held through numerous meetings with school patrons to discuss school size and secondary school configurations. Five more meetings of a Future Buildings Advisory Group, attended by nearly 80 school district residents and employees, were held this spring to discuss high school configuration and the need for additional school buildings to serve our ever growing student population.

As a result of the work done by the committee, input, and advisory groups, a facility plan for the next six years has been developed. The board has approved an initial resolution for the sale of general obligation school building bonds in the principal amount of $65,000,000, and approved a resolution calling for a special election on June 9, 2009, to approve the bond. With the approval of the patrons of this school district, the proposed projects and schedules for construction would be:

• The construction of a grade 1-5, 550 student capacity, elementary school located just east of County Road 17 and south of 52nd Avenue South. Construction of this building would begin in the summer of 2009 and conclude in the summer of 2010.

• The expansion of Horace Elementary School from a two-track grade 1-5 school to a five-track grade 1-5 school. Construction would begin in the summer of 2012 and conclude in the summer of 2013.

• The conversion of the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center from a 600 student capacity ninth grade school to a grade 6-8, 600 student capacity middle school would begin in the 2011-12 school year. The expansion of this middle school to a 1,200 student capacity school. Construction would begin in the summer of 2009 to expand the gymnasium. Final build out of an additional academic wing is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2014.

• The construction of a grade 9-12, 1,200 student capacity high school to be located adjacent to the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center on that 80 acre site. Construction would begin in the spring of 2010 and conclude in the summer of 2011.

• Renovations to the current high school. Projects would begin in the summer of 2010 and conclude by the summer of 2011.

• Upgrades to secondary athletic and physical education grounds and supporting amenities. Projects would begin in the summer of 2009 and conclude by the summer of 2012.