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Letter: Demand a plan that makes sense

The numbers just don’t add up. Demand better transparency and a plan that makes sense for our actual needs. Vote ‘no’ on June 22.

Letter to the editor FSA

Do new schools shrink? When Discovery Elementary School was built in 2015 (without a taxpayer vote), the school district described it as having six classrooms per grade level and a capacity of 700 students. The district chose to build in one phase for “cost effectiveness” and occupy half the building initially with room retained for an additional 350 students. (Herald, Aug. 14, 2015: “Tour Guide: Discovery Elementary set to open as modern education model”).

In February 2020, when West Elementary students were evacuated and moved into empty classrooms at Discovery, it was described as a five-section-per-grade school (Herald, Feb. 20, 2020: “Discovery Elementary poised to welcome West students, staff”).

At the School Board meeting on June 14, a presentation by the district’s demographer showed a further reduction; listing the capacity of Discovery as 448 students with only four sections per grade. Using this lower number, the school was considered “full” a mere two years after it was built; a loss of one third of its original reported size. How can this possibly be?

Grand Forks voters should be aware that a similar “shrinking” is already happening to the proposed north-end K-8 school even before it is built. Initial reports were of a capacity of 1,100 (Herald, April 13: “Grand Forks committee brainstorms features of proposed K-8 school on city's north side”) , then 950 (Herald, May 11: “Grand Forks School Board hears details on referendum election, consolidated school, districtwide infrastructure projects”) , and is currently listed as 850 on the district website.

According to state census figures, 973 Pre-K through eighth-grade students attended the three W schools plus Valley in 2020/2021 and the demographer projected the number of K-8 students to rise to 1,035 in five years with growth in particular in the Wilder boundary. Will the new school be full before it opens? Will it need to accommodate far more students than we are being told? Will a new elementary school on the south end be on the horizon soon because Discovery is "full?"

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The numbers just don’t add up. Demand better transparency and a plan that makes sense for our actual needs. Vote ‘no’ on June 22.

Whitney Berry, Grand Forks

Related Topics: GRAND FORKS SCHOOL BOARD
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