More than 20 percent of Fargo public schools will be shut down by 2020 under budget deal
By JOSEPH LABANESE and JASON LEVYAssociated PressA proposal to close the Fargo Public Schools by 2020 and replace them with charter schools and a voucher system has been approved by the Legislature’s Finance and Budget Committee.
The legislation passed 2-1 in the House on Tuesday and is now awaiting Senate approval.
It is expected to become law before the end of the year.
The proposed legislation would close all but two schools, including the former Bismarcks high school.
The bill would also close Fargo Public schools for four weeks a year, except during the holidays.
The charter schools would include a high school and a middle school.
They would have to operate under the charter school charter law, but the Legislature has approved the district’s current charter law.
The proposal also would require the district to keep track of enrollment and to create a voucher program for students from low-income families.
The voucher program would allow students from Fargo’s poorest and most marginalized communities to attend private charter schools.
The district would have a one-time $1,000 voucher for each of the children.
In a news release, the district said it plans to hire about 150 full-time staff members and about 50 part-time staffers to work in schools for students who need special instruction or are students of color.
The district said its new budget proposal will provide additional funds to meet the increased staffing needs and improve the school’s academic and learning outcomes.
The Fargo school district said in a news conference Tuesday that the proposed funding plan includes $1 million to hire 50 new teachers and $750,000 to hire 100 new teachers.
The new budget plan includes a proposal to allow students to take classes at Fargo public elementary schools instead of a charter school, the school district announced.
Fargo public schools have been closed for the past two years.
Fargo Public Charter Schools, a nonprofit corporation, owns the high school, and the school has been open since 2009.
Fresno County schools will continue to open on the regular schedule for the foreseeable future.
Fargo school districts in California, Michigan, Minnesota and Texas will open on a different schedule.
Fremont, a school district in Illinois, is closing the district.