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Published January 09, 2012, 10:25 PM

GF School Board Hears Task Force Recommendations

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Demographic Task Force's recommendation to keep all the elementary schools in Grand Forks open seems to have taken conflict out of the school redistricting process.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Demographic Task Force's recommendation to keep all the elementary schools in Grand Forks open seems to have taken conflict out of the school redistricting process.

The Grand Forks School Board reviewed the Demographic Task Force's recommendations Monday night, recommendations that also include construction of a new elementary school on the city's far south end.

The 30 member task force assembled by the Grand Forks School District was charged with finding solutions to low enrollment at north-end schools and crowding at south-end schools as a result of increased residential development in that area.

With these preliminary recommendations, district lines will be redrawn for elementary, middle and high school students.

All schools will stay open and a new elementary school would be added on the city's south end. That new school is expected to cost between $10 million and $12 million and could hold up to 300 students.

The Grand Forks Air Force Base would see its elementary school close and moved to the middle school, a recommendation from the base commander.

At Monday night's meeting it seemed parents, community members and some school board members were satisfied with the early recommendations.

"It is our belief as a group that an investment by the school district by maintaining Wilder and a commitment to ensure its future success would go a long way toward reversing the current trend of out migration," Whitney Berry, parent and member of Friends of Wilder Elementary, commented.

"The capacity issue, once we get past capacity I'm okay. I don't believe we're going to get to capacity, okay? So I believe that we have to look at our guidelines as a school district and say as a community that we're willing to accept smaller schools," school board member Mike St. Onge said.

No other school district in North Dakota has gone through a process that was this in-depth. The task force looked at numerous types current and future demographic information.

The Air Force Base School Board will review the recommendations at its meeting on January 17th. Then there will be a joint meeting of both school boards and a public forum at South Middle School on January 23rd.

After the public forum, the Demographic Task Force will present final recommendations to the school board in early February.

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