Public weighs in on boundary issues
The latest data from a professional education planning firm forecasts an increase in student enrollment for the Fort Dodge Community School District over the course of the next several years.
According to the data, the district could see an increase of about 300 students in the next five years. That includes an increase of about 100 students at the elementary, middle school, and high school level.
RSP and Associates presented the information during a public forum Monday night to discuss possible boundary changes to elementary schools in the FDCSD.
About 30 people attended the session in the cafeteria of the Fort Dodge Middle School.
The anticipated growth can be attributed in part to the continued expansion of industries in the area, according to David Wilkerson, education planner for the firm.
Aside from Prestage Foods of Iowa moving into the region, Wilkerson said other industries are growing.
“Elanco, AML are expanding,” he said. “It’s not just one industry.”
The firm is using current trends in city population, growth projections, and school building capacities among other factors to determine the proposed boundaries.
Along with the anticipated growth, the new Duncombe Elementary School is set to open next fall.
Those are two reasons the district wanted to revisit the makeup of its elementary school boundaries.
The new school will have a capacity of about 450 students. Butler Elementary can also hold up to 450 students. Cooper Elementary School and Feelhaver Elementary School can each house about 230 students.
RSP projects that by 2021 those elementary schools will be over capacity.
According to Richard Sanchez, planning project manager for RSP, the Duncombe area has the highest concentration of students.
Branwyn Greathouse, of Fort Dodge, was surprised by that.
She lives near Cooper Elementary School.
“I have an elementary school, middle school, and high school within walking distance,” she said. “So I thought that area would have the highest density.”
Megan Secor, of Fort Dodge, was there to “see what the future looks like” for her young daughter.
Lori Evans, of Fort Dodge, wanted to see what the changes could look like.
“I am here to learn,” she said.
Lynette Nielson, of Fort Dodge, was curious where her son might go to school in a few years.
“According to this map, my son would attend Feelhaver,” Nielson said. “It’s just interesting to look at.”
Brandon McAtee and his wife, Jennifer McAtee, of Fort Dodge, attended the meeting to ensure their kids would attend Feelhaver Elementary School.
“We would like to see them attend Feelhaver,” Brandon McAtee said. “That’s closest to us.”
He added, “That was a concern to us because we are near some of the new development on Williams Road.”
A 55-unit apartment complex and 48 single-family homes could be added in that area, east of Williams Drive. About 74 single-family homes, 20 duplexes and 60 rowhomes in 10 buildings of six units each could be added on the west side of Williams Drive.
The current draft of the boundaries presented by RSP has his children attending Feelhaver.
“It doesn’t appear this impacts our neighborhood negatively,” he said.
Jennifer McAtee was also happy with the proposed changes.
“It looks like they took some of the southern part and gave it to Duncombe,” she said. “It looks more balanced.”
Wilkerson said the future looks positive for the area.
“Opening a new facility and having some growth,” he said. “That’s very positive.”
A second forum will be held on the potential boundary changes on Dec. 20. from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Fort Dodge Middle School auditorium.