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WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 27, 2012, 09:23 PM

Freedom Elementary numbers make a new school a possibility

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Everyone on the West Fargo School Board knew a second new elementary would be needed. It was included as part of the $82.5 million bond referendum last year, but nobody thought it would be this soon.

West Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Everyone on the West Fargo School Board knew a second new elementary would be needed.

It was included as part of the $82.5 million bond referendum last year, but nobody thought it would be this soon.

It's all because of right here at Freedom Elementary.

Construction of a second elementary was supposed to start when Freedom reached 85 percent capacity. In its very first year, it's already over capacity.

As the third day of this new school year lets out, it's a mad dash to the 6 buses waiting outside of Freedom Elementary. It was expected to open with 470 students. It already has 565.

Dr. David Flowers, Superintendent: “Virtually all of that growth is happening at the elementary level.”

Now the district must already think about another new elementary school. One problem: it isn't in the budget yet.

Superintendent Dr. David Flowers says if construction on the new school starts soon, it could be ready by 2014.

It's already looking like Liberty Middle School, which opens next year, will need to take some 5th grade classrooms.

Dr. Flowers: “If you go another year, because the growth would continue during that second year, you would probably have to have fourth graders there as well.”

Business manager Mark Lemer says the goal is to not burden the taxpayer by finding other sources. That could include refinancing a bond from 2005.

Mark Lemer, WFPS Business Manager: “What we end up is in a three-year period, essentially we have four. That's more than our budget can absorb in that short period of time.”

Either way, school board members agree, a decision on the future needs to happen soon.

Dave Olson, School Board Member: “We should exhaust all methods to try and build that elementary school as soon as we can.”

Official enrollment numbers come out September 10th. If they stay as expected, the district would qualify to receive at least some money from a $2.6 million pot the legislature set aside for rapidly growing school districts.

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