At their March 26 meeting, the West Fargo School Board received the final report from the Long Range Facility Planning Task Force. The task force, which was commissioned by the Board, met five times over the past five months. They were convened in response to projections showing continued growth in the district of 400-500 students per year over at least the next five years. This relentless growth points to the need for additional space, particularly south of Interstate-94. Liberty Middle School, which only opened its doors four years ago, will exceed its capacity in 2018-19.
Our school board is to be commended for their vision and proactive focus on students. Their strategic plan, adopted last year, predated but strongly parallels and reinforces new requirements for school accountability under federal law. The "Every Student Succeeds Act" replaced "No Child Left Behind" in Congress's reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. One feature of the law was greater flexibility at the state level to determine an accountability model. North Dakota has recently completed the high school component, called
Giving Hearts Day is quickly approaching (Feb. 8), and the West Fargo Educational Foundation is pleased to officially be one of the new organizations eligible to receive matching funds from this event. The Foundation has been active for the past several years and is doing great things to support students, staff, and our community. I am privileged to serve as a non-voting member of the Foundation Board, and am grateful to this hardworking group for their vision and commitment to our school district.
It is far preferable to be leading and a part of a dynamic, growing community and school district rather than a stagnant or declining one, but it does have its challenges. Among the challenges resulting from our relentless growth are what I would categorize as "bonds, boundaries, and budgets."
I have often joked that the last things a superintendent wants to do are change elementary boundaries or close an elementary school. The reason is that these can be controversial and divisive actions that literally become the last things the superintendent does because he or she is fired because of it. Nevertheless, changing elementary boundaries is absolutely necessary in a school district that is growing as quickly as ours, and that is opening a new elementary school
We shared a communication similar to this with our West Fargo Public Schools staff this fall, and I thought it might be of interest to Pioneer readers as well. I cannot think of a more impactful profession than ours; education is without question the greatest and most important endeavor. It literally shapes the future, as our district mission states: Educating today's learners for tomorrow's world. To engage in the education profession, however, is also to be frustrated
On Aug. 29, the first day of school in West Fargo, we had 10,635 students in school or enrolled, an increase from the first day in 2016 of 584 students. This exceeded both our internal projections and RSP & Associates' projections for 2017-18. The largest surprise was in kindergarten, where there were 968 students, up 91 students from the first day in 2016. Previous growth challenges prompted two bond referendums (2011 and 2015). Since 2011, we have added or are in the process of adding the following new schools: Freedom Elementary,
"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!
As you consider your own household budget, imagine the following set of circumstances applies to you: your income will be fixed, or have minimal growth, for at least two years; and during those two years you know that the cost of health insurance will increase, as will the cost of living, goods and services. To complicate things, you're worried because this is coming at a time when you have a new family member on the way. Further, you have had to move to a larger home and take on a larger mortgage to have room for your growing family.
I recently had the honor of watching over 500 West Fargo Public Schools students graduate in our various ceremonies, and I had the privilege of speaking to them briefly. What was on my mind was generations, and how important education has been, is currently, and will be to future generations. At our graduation ceremonies, there were probably four or more generations present. There were the graduates, their parents', and certainly, there were grandparents and perhaps great-grandparents there and possibly even children of older brothers or sisters of the