To update the public on next year’s student or grade level placement, we have scheduled a 5 p.m. meeting on Dec. 12 in the Kennedy Secondary School Auditorium.

At this meeting, citizens and parents will hear an update on the Student Placement Committee’s proposed recommendation with an opportunity to provide feedback. Everyone is also invited to the public hearings held on that same evening — World’s Best Workforce, Internet Safety and Taxes Payable 2017.

In one of my October columns, I shared that our school district is now faced with a new, and quite different challenge than it had eight years ago when the census projection suggested a continued decline in students.

At that time, the plan was to eventually close the McKinley School and fit grades K-4 in Adams and Cleveland Schools and have the fifth grade move back to Kennedy Secondary School.

Our District’s current fourth-graders lead a different trend — every class in grades K-4 has 185 students or greater. The district already had to move the Otter preschool to the Heritage Building to make room for the additional sections in grades K-2 at McKinley and Adams Schools. The latest census data shows a continuation of strong class numbers in the 190 student range. Our Cleveland School, which houses grades 3-5, is full. In the future, this elementary growth will also drive additional challenges at the secondary level.

Over the next few months, our school district will be working closely with staff and community members to get input on student placement in our current school buildings.

At this time, there are spaces available in the Kennedy Secondary School and Roosevelt buildings for additional students.

The key question we will be asking is, “What is the best plan for our students?” Our district staff met on Nov. 4 to provide input on the student or grade level placement for 2017-2018 school year and beyond. This information will be reviewed and used by the Student Placement Committee.

The Student Placement Committee is scheduled to meet from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 17 at Lakes Country Service Cooperative to begin the process of developing a student placement recommendation to the school board.

Committee members include community members from the PTO and the District Curriculum Review and Advisory Committee, along with teachers, administrators and school board members.

If you are interested in participating on this Student Placement Committee, please contact my office.

At 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 in the Otter Community Room (Kennedy Secondary School), the citizen-based District Curriculum Review and Advisory Committee will review the progress to date.

As mentioned earlier in the column, beginning at 5 p.m., prior to the start of the School Board meeting on Dec. 12 (in the Kennedy Secondary School Auditorium), the district will provide an opportunity for citizens and parents to hear the recommendation and ask questions.

After making adjustments based on input, the recommendation will be presented to the public at 6:30 p.m. on, Jan. 31, 2017, in the KSS Auditorium.

After this meeting, final adjustments will be made before the Student Placement Committee presents the recommendation at the Feb. 13, school board meeting.

The final approval of the student or grade level placement recommendation is tentatively scheduled for the Feb. 27, school board meeting.

The district would have from March 2017 to August 2017 to communicate and implement the plan. If you have any ideas or concerns, please contact my office.

Jerry Ness is the superintendent of Fergus Falls Public Schools. His column appears every Wednesday.

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