The first of five community meetings regarding the future of Grand Forks schools is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, at Valley Middle School.

At the meetings, scheduled throughout September, Grand Forks School Board members and school district administrators plan to gather input on what the public values most in schools, and provide information on issues, especially financial pressures, the school district is facing.

During the meetings, the public will see a presentation that includes the budget, enrollment projections, class sizes and costs per building, deferred maintenance needs, and the city’s population growth trends.

Members of the audience will be divided into small groups for meetings, led by facilitators, to provide input on questions designed to assess residents’ values and perspectives.

The district has been operating under a deficit budget for several years and the expense of maintaining aging buildings and repairing or replacing equipment -- especially for heating, ventilation and cooling systems -- is a growing problem.

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Several of the district’s 18 buildings were built before 1950, Scott Berge, district business manager, said.

Among elementary schools, deferred maintenance totals about $25 million, he said.

More efficiency and cost-savings are possible, for example, in elementary schools with three or four classrooms, rather than a single classroom, at each grade level, Berge said.

Other community meetings are planned for Tuesday, Sept. 10, at Discovery Elementary School; Sept. 16 at Grand Forks Central High School; Sept. 19 at Viking Elementary School; and Sept. 26 at Wilder Elementary School.

Those who are unable to attend the meetings may provide their feedback through an online portal, “Thought Exchange,” accessible through the school district’s website.