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Flowers: Back to School time is coming soon

"Back to school!" Those are words that strike different chords in different individuals. By August, many students are bored and ready to reunite with friends, eager for a new year of learning to begin. Others don't so much dread school, they just aren't quite ready to say goodbye to the fun of summer. Teachers, administrators and other staff have had some break, but many have been busy most of the summer in professional development, going to school, teaching summer school, or preparing for the new school year. Many parents are more than ready for students to return to school! Like it or not, the 2017-18 school year begins on August 29, and we'll be ready.

It has been an extremely busy summer construction season for West Fargo Public Schools. No fewer than eight projects are at one phase or another, with several due to be completed for students before school starts or during the first semester. The newest member of our elementary family, Brooks Harbor, is virtually complete, and opens this fall. The first phase of construction to convert Osgood Kindergarten Center into a K-5 school is nearing completion, with the second phase that will complete the conversion planned for the summer of 2018. A classroom addition and remodeling at West Fargo High School is nearing completion as well. It adds classrooms to the south of the building, expands the commons area and remodels a number of classrooms and locker rooms. An auxiliary gym was completed last year. Renovations at Horace Elementary will provide a remodeled office area, in addition to new classrooms completed last school year. A new transportation facility is under construction on the west edge of town in the industrial park area. The West Fargo Sports Arena, featuring two sheets of ice, is nearing completion near the intersection of Sheyenne Street and 32nd Avenue South. Classroom additions and remodeling at Berger Elementary are near completion. Finally, the first phase of the Hulbert Aquatic Center is due for completion by November. It houses the 2016 Olympic Trials pool that was a temporary installation in Omaha. Phase 2 will remodel the existing pool area into a warm-water lesson pool, with construction starting this school year. All of these projects are due to the support of the community in the 2015 bond referendum, which was in response to our continued growth in West Fargo Public Schools.

During the 2016-17 school year we exceeded 10,000 students. Projections show the district continuing to grow 300-500 students a year. The administration and board will continue to monitor the growth. It is possible that some students will need to attend a school other than their neighborhood school this year, due to growth and potential unexpected crowding prior to the completion of our next K-5 elementary schools (Willow Park on the north side and Osgood on the south side.) During this coming school year, a committee made up of parents, administrators and school board members will make recommendations regarding elementary boundaries for the 2018-19 school year. That is the year that elementary projects will be completed, enabling kindergarten children all to be housed in their neighborhood elementary schools rather than in kindergarten centers. This change will require shifts in elementary boundaries both north and south of I-94.

We are anxious for the 2017-18 school year to begin! It is an exciting time to be a part of West Fargo Public Schools, and it is an honor and a privilege for me to help lead in such a supportive community.