Fargo Moorhead West Fargo has always had a great education system. With three newly appointed superintendents each starting their positions in their respective districts, our k-12 educational landscape is a hot topic. This month’s Eggs & Issues allowed us to hear from each of the three new leaders as they start their roles. This included Brandon Lunak, Moorhead Area Public Schools; Rupak Gandhi, Fargo Public School District; and Beth Slette, West Fargo Public Schools.
Not too surprisingly, the theme among all the districts was growth.
Highlights from Moorhead
The district has 6,980 students, 530 teachers and 1,018 employees, making MPS the largest employer in Moorhead
A shift in demographics is happening. “As our demographics change, so do the needs of our district,” Lunak said. Most notable was the socio-economic indicator, meaning thousands of students are on free and reduced lunch.
A result of the 2015 bond referendum (which was completed on budget and on time), allowed for secure entrances at all schools, additional classroom space, dedicated learning spaces, and the Horizon Performing Arts Center, which opened in April this year.
District graduation rates are always on their mind, Lunak said, and Moorhead High School saw a 7% increase in 2017 that exceeded the state average.
Other priorities from the 2017-18 strategic plan included a 1-to-1 technology initiative expanded to grades 5-8 and innovation emphasized at Horizon Middle School Campus, and the launch of Designing Moorhead High School’s 21st Century Academic/Instructional Program Task Force.
Challenges include increasing enrollment and facilities, a new state licensure system, and mental health needs for students.
Highlights from Fargo
Superintendent Gandhi is new to the area and the state, coming from California and Texas, and stated his passion for equity in schools. “The only way to plan for our future is to develop quality education,” he opened with.
Fargo Public Schools is the second largest school district in North Dakota, serving more than 11,400 students and standing as the fourth largest employer in the region.
Their challenges include services for student mental health and challenging behaviors, long-term planning, and long-term sustainable funding.
In their 2018-19 operation plan are three task forces to address these challenges, and
He also invites you to their State of the Schools Address & Public Focus Group on Thursday, January 10, 2019, at South High School.
Highlights from West Fargo
Our westernmost district is growing by 400 to 600 students per year. For this new school year, they have hired 130 new teachers, and are now over 1,700 employees. Currently, 11,081 students are enrolled, and they continue to break projections. The district has 24 facilities. The two middle schools and high schools are even the largest in the state.
To keep up with the growth, a bond referendum is up for a vote on September 25 that will allow for a new middle school and high school on a shared campus to open in 2020 and 2021, respectively. It would also allow for additional security, elementary classroom spaces, additions and renovations in Harwood and Horace, and synthetic turf at the high school. Details of the referendum and who can vote can be found in the slideshow link below.
The panel talked about their collaboration on various task forces and personalized learning, too. “It’s more than West Fargo; it’s more than Fargo; it’s more than Moorhead,” Slette said. “We’re a metro, and our students are passing back and forth between our districts. Unless we work together to solve some of these problems, and with our community, we won’t be able to do it.”
The event concluded with audience members asking questions of the superintendents. We want to thank all our program sponsors, event attendees, and host site, the Courtyard by Marriott in Moorhead for great service and a great breakfast!
Check out these Tweets from attendees!
What are the odds that all three public school districts in our community would have new superintendents in the same year? Great to hear from each of them. #FMWFeggs #MoorheadProud #ILoveFargo #WestFargo pic.twitter.com/jS3QiFnMTq
— Kirsten Jensen (@NextKirsten) September 5, 2018
— Julie Swaggert (@JSwaggert) September 5, 2018
— Shawn paschke (@pash0701) September 5, 2018
— Lisa Borgen (@CrystalCoLisaB) September 5, 2018
— SE Education Coop. (@NDSEEC) September 5, 2018
Thank you @MoorheadSuper @RupakGandhi @BethSlette for your leadership in our school districts and sharing updates at #fmwfeggs this morning! @MSUMoorhead looks forward to our continued partnership in serving our students! #LifeTransformed pic.twitter.com/1CnElsCZSn
— Lisa Karch (@MSUMLisa) September 5, 2018
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