“What does the board want to invest in right now? Superintendent Rupak Gandhi said at the board’s working session on Tuesday, September 21, adding that the goal is to create cohesive eating patterns from primary schools to secondary schools.
Not only is enrollment growth exceeding expectations in South Fargo, but plans for the decommissioning of the Agassiz Building at 1305 9th Ave. S., which is home to the newly renamed Dakota High School, is lobbying the school board to find space for the students.
“It’s all kind of interconnected here,” Gandhi said.
For now, district administrators will explore changes in attendance on the south side with a view to alleviating the pressure on Bennett Elementary, which had higher-than-expected enrollment this year, and possibly moving forward with a addition to Hawthorne Elementary.
The board must also fight against the decommissioning of the Agassiz building, which the district plans to sell. Most of the programs offered in the building have found new homes, with the exception of Dakota High School and the Adult Learning Program, Rupak said.
One of the ideas discussed was the construction of a new high school in South Fargo, but a boundary change could help reduce overcrowding, which would postpone an additional school building until at least 2025.
In addition, the district’s purchase of the old RD Offutt Co. building, which will become the district’s new headquarters, will provide additional parking for use by staff at the nearby Hawthorne Elementary School.
The decor is also prepared to improve communication with the district teachers ‘union and address teachers’ concerns. Three commissions that will include members of the school board intend to address the topics of vacations, staff salaries and contract negotiations.
Board members Seth Holden and Brian Nelson will serve as district representatives on the wages committee, which will begin regular meetings later this year.
The recess committee will study schedules and best practices for how staff supervise students’ recess. It will include Associate Superintendent Missy Eidsness and Board Member Nikkie Gullickson.
Recess times became an issue during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 after teachers were asked to oversee recess due to understaffing. The recreation commission, which will include five other administrators, plans to study what practices would best benefit students and teachers.
The Bargaining Commission was created to reassess how the district will negotiate staff contracts by studying collaborative bargaining training with the teachers’ union, known as the Fargo Education Association (FEA).
“This is, hopefully, creating a new paradigm that we will move forward with,” said Jim Johnson, board member. “I think it is essential for all of us to try to participate in this training.”
Past negotiations have been “adversarial,” Gandhi said, adding that the type of training the district and the teachers’ union should receive was the important question.
“It’s about getting the board and FEA to work together,” said David Paulson, board member. “We provide training that meets both of our needs and we move forward from there.”