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Communications plan takes shape in WFSD

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Communications plan takes shape in WFSD
Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

Communication problems within the West Fargo School District may soon be a thing of the past.

At Monday's School Board meeting, West Fargo Superintendent Dr. Dana Diesel Wallace presented a draft of a new communications plan that will help with "clarity and coordination of communication," she said.


The plan specifically outlines procedures and policies for the board, superintendent, administrators, district staff, parents, district patrons and news media.

Though still in its rough form, the plan is a "jumping-off place," Wallace said.

According to the draft, the proposed plan will "establish a comprehensive and integrated communications process for effective communication with all stakeholders."

A review of the plan shows that the biggest impact seems to be facilitating a flow of information throughout the district. Processes are in place for all members to help in clearly communicating a unified message. Ideally, this should help knock down communication barriers, board President Tom Gentzkow said.

"We need to be able to understand what everyone wants ... so everyone is on the same page," he said.

The draft was put together by the recently formed communications committee. Within the last year, teachers and school officials agreed that a panel could help heal relations among district staff. The committee - composed of School Board members Karen Nitzkorski and Patti Stedman, Dr. Wallace, STEM Center Principal Tabatha Joyce and several staff members - met for the first time Feb. 16. They plan to meet again March 16 and April 20.

The committee came about, in part, from the efforts of the West Fargo Education Association after hearing of low teacher morale within the school district.

Wallace said she believes problems with communication have stemmed largely from the administrative end.

"Anecdotally, I tend to think our biggest issue is from the district office out," she said. When trying to convey information, "sometimes we communicate two different messages."

Still, the plan isn't perfect, Wallace said. "There's a lot of day-to-day management and oversight," she said. So far, the draft explains flow of communication procedures, as well as suggestions for administrators and staff members to gain knowledge about the district, such as visiting different schools.

But since the plan still is in its youngest stage, there still is time to perfect it.

"It's going to take some fine-tuning," Wallace said.

Summer school update

Summer school in West Fargo is shaping up, and will begin in June for students in elementary school, middle school, and high school.

Some changes have come to the elementary level, however. This year, the plan is to have more of a "neighborhood elementary school," Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis said. This means, students will more likely go to summer school at the kindergarten they were in during the regular school year.

"We want to have teachers who know the kids, teach the kids," Dardis said.

The focus of learning at the kindergarten and middle school level will be reading, Dardis said. Summer schools must have 60 hours of instruction altogether. Middle school will consist of four-hour days.

There are two sessions of summer school planned for the high school. Students attending summer school there likely will be trying to acquire credits to help toward graduation, Dardis said.

The state reimburses the district for expenses resulting from summer school except for transportation, Dardis said. The district is budgeting approximately $17,000 for buses this year, she said.