West Fargo Public Schools: Why two high schools?
Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles concerning the West Fargo Public Schools upcoming bond referendum.
Residents of West Fargo have been charged with making a big decision May 24: determining the long-range direction for building in the West Fargo School District. In this plan, citizens will be asked to approve a second high school for the students of West Fargo Public Schools.
This is a new direction for the West Fargo School District, and it is no surprise that citizens want to know if this change will be good for the future of not only the school district, but for the cities involved.
How did the School Board determine this was the best option to put forth? This article will explain the details around this decision.
The primary driver behind this decision was the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee, comprised of school district employees, teachers, parents and community members. The goal of this committee was to provide the West Fargo School Board with a long-range building plan that projects the future space and program needs of students and staff, and aligns them with the community's values and ability to support financially. The committee studied the pros and cons of various configurations related to the high school level, and narrowed it down to two options:
Option 1 - A single high school with one building serving grades 9 and 10, and a second building serving grades 11 and 12.
Option 2 - Two separate buildings both serving grades 9-12.
Long-Range Facilities Planning Committee recommendation
After reviewing these pros and cons, the committee supported Option 2 for two separate high schools by a margin of 86 percent. Information and criteria taken into consideration are available at www.wfvoice.org or www.west-fargo.k12.nd.us.
After hearing the recommendation from the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee, the School Board asked the administration to get additional feedback before a decision was made. Six additional meetings with school employees and community members were held to gather input. Those six meetings confirmed the recommendation that was brought forth by the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee.
After these meetings, the 2010 U.S. Census Data was released. This gave a comparison on how other area school districts' residents under 18 years of age feed into various high schools.
The following table offers a comparison of the top three school districts in the state of North Dakota:
Once two separate buildings both serving grades 9-12 was decided upon, a number of citizens voiced a growing concern around extracurricular activities, and speculated on whether the school district would provide all of the same opportunities at both high schools.
The school district has stated that, eventually, both high schools would have their own sports teams. Those decisions would be made with input from the coaches and as participation numbers dictated.
It could be possible that the schools would have their own teams in some sports right away, but would co-op for others until participation numbers grew sufficiently. Such co-ops have been common both within and between school districts. In fact, West Fargo has participated in cooperatives for gymnastics and hockey with Fargo in the past.
With a current 9-12 enrollment of 1,964 in the West Fargo School District, there is a limit as to who can participate in extracurricular activists. An additional high school could increase these types of opportunities for students.