Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Our opinion: Let’s explore what’s best for future generations.

Editorial | June 20th, 2024

The WFF Unified School District?

By John Strand

jas@hpr1.com

Both the Fargo and West Fargo School Districts are strategizing their futures. This is necessary, because of immensely challenging financial and geopolitical changes facing both districts.

While both districts are weighing options, there’s one very glaring option missing that neither is considering, at least to our knowledge. We’re remiss when we do not put all potentialities before the decision makers and ultimately the public.

Our recommendation would be to immediately explore the creation of one consolidated school district encompassing both districts.

Yes, we know there’s going to be a pushback from people and even leaders who do not want to lose the identities of existing schools, mascots, teams, etc. That’s understandable as change always presents challenges.

But not changing also presents challenges. Such as inefficiencies.

It’s common knowledge that the West Fargo School District is growing at an almost unserviceable rate. What’s not common knowledge is that there are more Fargo residents with students in the West Fargo School District than there are West Fargo residents.

That’s correct. Read it again, please.

Back in the mid-1970s, when the school district boundaries were last set, there was a vast gap of space physically between the two cities. Since then, that corridor along up to 45th Street South in Fargo has filled in with thousands of people. And students.

To our knowledge, this is the only example in the entire state where city and school boundaries are not the same.

Also to our knowledge, both districts are seriously envisioning their futures. Fine. But not all options are being weighed.

Yes, West Fargo School District can and should be looking at its future long term. And so should the Fargo School District. Yet there has not been a single outreach whereby representatives of both districts and/or communities gathered to discuss the best long-term strategy. No one is asking if a consolidated West Fargo/Fargo School District could provide any benefits.

What could these benefits be? Streamlining administration costs, curriculum efficiencies or enhancements, transportation, physical school locations and configurations.

Both districts depend on property taxes more than any other source of revenue. Both districts are seemingly strapped when it comes to accommodating physical expansion of their existing city footprints. While the cities expand, the building levy funds don’t easily accommodate new schools.

There are apparently times when each district is building schools physically proximate to other schools, despite the fact that they are in different — albeit neighboring — communities. The Fargo School District is apparently looking at the viability and futures of some of its neighborhood elementary schools: Madison, Hawthorne, Clara Barton, Roosevelt and Horace Mann, we understand.

The last major long-range facilities plan for the Fargo School District prioritized saving neighborhood schools. This could be changing going forward. And that’s a huge change for core neighborhoods.

Years ago, our Chambers merged, much to the chagrin of some of their leaders, who were protective of their own city roles. It’s our understanding this change — which was good now, in retrospect — came from the Chamber of Commerce membership.

This is the time to add this third and new option to the mix as we explore what’s best for future generations. A Unified School District would conceivably provide unparalleled curriculum and extracurricular opportunities for our students. That’s worth exploring.

We hereby challenge the West Fargo School Board and the Fargo Board of Education to not overlook this option, especially now when they are contemplating hundreds of millions in needed strategic investments in the future. We don’t need to know all the answers now. Yet if we don’t ask now if it’s a viable option and one worth considering, we’ll never know. And that’s shortsighted.

We do not predict this proposal will pass muster even if appropriately and thoroughly vetted. But vet it we must. We owe our people the grandest vision possible.

And, for the sake of disclosure, this writer served as the chair of the Fargo Schools Long Range Facilities Committee a decade ago while serving on the Fargo School Board. This is not a new idea. It has just danced around, year after year, and it’s likely not even been mentioned at the decision makers’ table.

Understandably. Because it needs to come from the people. As it should.

So, people, what do you think? Parents and caregivers with kids in schools, what do you think? Those of you living in the Fargo city limits — and also in the West Fargo School District — what do you think?

It could be transformational and visionary. And it may die due to lack of interest or community champions. And it’s not the end of the world if we never consolidate these two contiguous school districts. But it would be healthy to say we at least weighed it as an option.

Recently in:

By Maddie Robinsonmaddierobi.mr@gmail.com This article discusses topics related to mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org. …

The life of a jockey straight from the horse's mouthBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comFor George Pineda, jockeying is a family tradition. But that legacy includes loss. “My uncles, Alvaro and Robert Pineda — one got killed in a…

Thursday, August 8, gates 5 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m.Bluestem Amphitheater, 801 50th Avenue S., MoorheadFormed by guitarist/vocalist Brian Setzer, upright bass player Lee Rocker and drummer Slim Jim Phantom, The Stray Cats…

Recovering from PennsylvaniaBy John Strandjas@hpr1.com Holy shit, America! Is this a path we want to stay on? Is this the tipping point or brink we’re at? Is it a sign of more to come, or a come to Jesus moment where we decide…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.comHow can anyone be lonely with eight billion homo sapiens on Earth?The world seems to be in the throes of a PTSD pandemic. Even the price of happiness is going way up. Back in 2010 two Nobel Prize…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com Holiday wine shopping shouldn’t have to be complicated. But unfortunately it can cause unneeded anxiety due to an overabundance of choices. Don’t fret my friends, we once again have you covered…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.com In this land of hotdish and ham, the knoephla soup of German-Russian heritage seems to reign supreme. In my opinion though, the French have the superior soup. With a cheesy top layer, toasted baguette…

HPR chats with Slug of the hip-hop duo AtmosphereBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comWhen Sean Daley, also known as Slug, the voice of Twin Cities-based hip hop duo Atmosphere and co-founder of rap label Rhymesayers was growing up,…

By Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.com Writer-director Nicole Riegel’s sophomore feature “Dandelion” is now playing in theaters following a world premiere at South by Southwest in March. The movie stars KiKi Layne as the…

New Minnesota sculptures include artist’s largest trollBy Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com According to Danish artist and environmental activist Thomas Dambo, “All trash is treasure.” So far, he and his team have built 138…

By John Showalterjohn.d.showalter@gmail.comHigh Plains Reader had the opportunity to interview two mysterious new game show hosts named Milt and Bradley Barker about an upcoming event they will be putting on at Brewhalla. What…

By Annie Prafckeannieprafcke@gmail.com AUSTIN, Texas – As a Chinese-American, connecting to my culture through food is essential, and no dish brings me back to my mother’s kitchen quite like hotdish. Yes, you heard me right –…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comNew Jamestown Brewery Serves up Local FlavorThere’s something delicious brewing out here on the prairie and it just so happens to be the newest brewery west of the Red River and east of the…

By John Showalter  john.d.showalter@gmail.comThey sell fentanyl test strips and kits to harm-reduction organizations and…

JANUARY 19, 1967– MARCH 8, 2023 Brittney Leigh Goodman, 56, of Fargo, N.D., passed away unexpectedly at her home on March 8, 2023. Brittney was born January 19, 1967, to Ruth Wilson Pollock and Donald Ray Goodman, in Hardinsburg,…

By Madeline Lukemzlnd@yahoo.com About 100 years ago the state of agriculture in North Dakota was pretty dire. Minnesota banks, grain mills, and railroads treated ND as a colony; they extracted our labor and natural resources for…