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Question 4

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Akers: If elected, I would hopefully bring everyone together to work as a team, I would encourage an open door policy. I would make myself and other board members available to answer all questions and concerns the public and/or staff might have. Questions from the public or staff need to be discussed in a timely manner. I have the utmost respect for all individuals that are seeking information or answers.

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Bourdon: First of all, I believe that the hiring of Dr Flowers will provide the administrative leadership that is desperately needed for the West Fargo Public School system (staff and board). To restore trust, we must have open dialogue and clear communication between the board, teachers, administrators, students, staff and the community. Although I can't guarantee what others will do to develop trust and confidence, I will work to establish transparency in board deliberations and to foster the consensus-building vital to wise policy, public credibility, and continued excellence in education.

Colter: If the goal is to greatly improve communication across the district, the first thing is the current board needed to hire a superintendent that can lead in making this "trust and confidence" environment a priority...which hopefully Dr. Flowers will do. I believe the new superintendent/administrators/board members need to have an open door policy to be able to gather input from the community and staff. In turn, the teachers/staff/community need to have the courage and commitment to providing that input through various channels. We need to find forums where people feel comfortable sharing what they see going on....probably on the web in some non-threatening format. I will always be willing to listen to teachers', administrators', and community members' ideas and concerns.

*This is a question that I have been asking many teachers and a few current board members. My take is most individuals involved don't feel comfortable communicating with each other, which is sad to me. I plan on talking to many teachers to get the "true" overall morale and why it is that way.

Durbin: I feel communication and trust has been lost in the West Fargo School District. I think we need to start repairing and bridging the gaps. We need to move forward with positive change. The first positive step was hiring a well respected superintendent. I also feel that we need to have teachers more involved with the decisions the school board makes. I feel that WFEA needs to be part of the school board. I would like to see the president of WFEA at each of the school board meetings. I think they could provide great information to the board as to what is happening in the classrooms and we can address any areas of concerns. I feel that board members and the superintendent need to be visible and accessible to the teachers and community.

Hawley: Communication is the foundation to building trust and confidence. I believe that effective communication must not be one-way. There needs to be a sharing of ideas and solutions, not simply mandates from administration. First, as a board member, I would be available to listen to and discuss concerns, and educate myself on the issues at hand that may cause a breakdown in communication. I would be a firm supporter of open communication and transparency between other board members, administration, staff, students and community. There should be no surprises. I believe that surveys of staff, administration and board members need to include space for additional comments so that all areas of concern can be highlighted. These also need to be anonymous, so people will give truthful responses that can spurn productive communication and productive action. No one should ever have to fear retaliation for their suggestions or concerns. My motto is: "my door is always open - I have no door."

Korsmo: The first step to improving communication has already been taken because the current board has hired Dr. David Flowers. As superintendent, he will be responsible for making a concerted effort along with the building principals to communicate with the staff so that they are receiving timely and relevant information. Board meetings are open to the public, so there always is transparency with board action. The board will need to be aware of disseminating information to the public so that there is more accurate information and less misinformation and fewer rumors circulating in the public and on talk radio.

Kvaale: This is an extremely important component of a healthy school system. Visibility in the community and in the schools welcoming open discussions and making a more personal connection is an effective way to improve communication. Since I am retired, I have the time to be involved in community activities, attend PTA and other school meetings and make school visits to talk with principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, etc.

Loos: The hiring of Dr. Flowers is the first step. The school board needs to act autonomously. The current school board has been acting like an arm of the administration, which has caused distrust with the teachers and staff. A good example of this was the firing of Jeremy Murphy as faculty advisor for the Packer (the student newspaper). Many staff and students wanted to be heard on this issue, but were ignored by the board. The board may have been correct in viewing the issue as administrative, but they should have allowed the students and staff to speak before choosing to blindly side with the administration.

McDougall: First, I would like to see us clearly define the role of the Administration and that of the School Board. Second, we would be open and honest with the public. Just because a decision may not be popular doesn't mean it's not the right decision, and the Board must be willing to back up their decisions with solid facts. Third, I think it would be important when seeking public input, to not have a preconceived agenda, and truly seek input before making plans. Fourth, I think our teachers need to feel that their opinions/comments are valued and that they are able to express their opinions/comments without fear of retaliation.

Nitzkorski: 1. Celebrate the many accomplishments of our students and staff and make sure the community hears about the great things that are going on in our schools.

2. Continue the work of the School Board Communications made up of teachers, support staff, the superintendent, and board members. We're just starting to make progress with work on safety for teachers and discipline concerns across the district.

3. Listen.

4. Encourage board members and the new superintendent to be more visible in schools and the community.

Olson: The hiring of our new superintendent will provide us a fresh start, but it is up to Dr. Flowers and our school board to facilitate better communication. I would lead the charge for our board to be up front and honest with our teachers, while providing all of them with equal tools to do their job at a high level. To accomplish this, board members and administration need to be more visible and approachable in all of our schools. I believe our teachers need to feel like they have a seat at the board table of every meeting. Keeping teachers abreast of our plans and ideas is key to improved involvement. We need to provide teachers a clear and concise plan on where we want to go as a district, while also getting constant input from them. All of us should share the same view that, if teachers and administration choose to work closely together, we can accomplish great things for our students.

Sahli: I am just one member of a board of seven, but I would have the superintendent be the voice and the face of the district. No communication director or multiple board members being voice to media. The board oversees policy and the Superintendent and works hand in hand. The Superintendent makes a very good wage and should as he or she is the leader and that is what people expect from a good leader. Constant communication back and forth with all is crucial, and much of the communication should involve listening vs. talking.

Simonson: As an educator, I know how frustrating it can be when you feel like no one is communicating with you. Staff morale and mistrust are two other issues that will need to be addressed. It will take time and energy on everyone's part to open the door and to keep it open. The school board and administrators are going to have to lead by their actions. As a school counselor, I feel that I am a good facilitator and have great listening skills. I firmly believe in empowering others and being a team player. Communication is the key to both of these beliefs.

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