School boundary changes make room for new Brooks Harbor Elementary, ease crowding at Aurora, Freedom
About 200 elementary school students will move to new schools when the West Fargo School District opens its newest elementary school, Brooks Harbor, this fall.
The School Board approved school boundaries at its Monday, Jan. 9, meeting that will move 62 students from Freedom Elementary School to Aurora Elementary next year. Brooks Harbor would then open with about 142 students in grades kindergarten through five, which is an estimate of the current students living in the Brooks Harbor neighborhood.
"We think this is the best scenario we could do for next year, recognizing that this is probably a one-year fix," Superintendent David Flowers said. "It will take mostly from Aurora, which will in turn lighten the population at Freedom, which is at capacity,"
The Brooks Harbor Elementary attendance area will be between Interstate 94 on the north, the Sheyenne River on the east, 32nd Avenue South and 38th Street West.
Students living between the Sheyenne River and Fourth Street, and 32nd Avenue South and 40th Avenue South who attended Freedom Elementary will now go to Aurora Elementary School. The redrawn boundaries will mean Aurora Elementary will go from 521 students now to 441 and Freedom Elementary will go from 514 students now to 452.
The boundary for Freedom Elementary School will likely require additional changes for the fall of 2018 to allow space for kindergarten.
The district is in the process of making all of its elementary schools house grades kindergarten through fifth grade. Aurora will begin having kindergarten classes at the school in 2017, but Freedom and Independence elementary schools will have to wait to welcome kindergarteners until after the Osgood Kindergarten Center is remodeled from a center into a K-5 school. After the remodel, boundaries for Freedom and Independence would likely be redrawn.
"It's kind of a two-step process leading up to 2018," Business Manager Mark Lemer said.
Brooks Harbor will be a two-section school, or two classes for grades kindergarten through five. It is large enough for three classes per grade.
When Brooks Harbor opens this fall, only about 142 students in grades kindergarten through five are expected to attend, which is well below its capacity.
With 142 students expected at Brooks Harbor, that number could change as the neighborhood continues to be developed, Lemer said.
Flowers said the low initial population likely won't last long with the fast-growing developments in that area.
"That school will not open at capacity, you don't want it to open at capacity," Flowers said.
The boundary changes are a sum of minor moves that will likely affect students living in the neighborhood west of Sheyenne River, near Fourth Street East the most.
Construction was started at Brooks Harbor after voters overwhelmingly approved a $98.1 million bond referendum in 2015. Construction will start on a second elementary school—also passed as part of the bond—north of the interstate this summer. Flowers said a third new elementary school will likely be needed farther south in the near future.
"So we'll have a steady diet of boundary changes in the next few years," Flowers said. "It's just the reality of growth."