There was a changing of the guard Monday at West Fargo's school board meeting.
Citing personal issues, Karen Nitzkorski requested not to be renominated as president during the board's yearly officer election process.
"I need to focus on my business," she said during a prepared speech that, at one part, brought her to tears. "It has been a pleasure serving you."
Before stepping down, Nitzkorski opened the floor to nominations for a new president. Board member Kay Kiefer nominated current vice president Ben Koppelman, who ran unopposed and was unanimously approved. Patti Stedman was elected vice president to fill Koppelman's seat.
"It has been an interesting journey," Koppelman said of his time working with Nitzkorski, who will remain a board member until her term is complete. "But I think she improved our ability to know what is going on as a board."
Nitzkorski's time as president may be remember best for her role in passing the West Fargo School District's first bond referendum in three years. The $82.5 million bond passed by a wide margin, thanks in large part to community involvement and collaboration with school officials and administration.
That latter aspect is one characteristic Nitzkorski said is key to the current board's success.
"We set the tone," she said. "And I know that everyone at this table is in it for the kids."
But Nitzkorski cautioned the board not to fall into the "Lake Wobegon syndrome," and be content with the status quo.
"We need to continually raise the bar," she said.
At the end of the meeting, Superintendent David Flowers offered Nitzkorski a hand-crafted kaleidoscope he built himself.
"Karen is an ideal person for this award ... for helping to create a system that helps every child," Flowers said.
Nitzkorski's current term on the school board ends in 2012.
Football field to get 500-seat visitor bleachers
Visitors at West Fargo's football field will soon have their own row of bleachers, but construction may not be completed for this coming season.
During Monday's board meeting, members unanimously approved that construction begin on a 500-seat bleacher system on the east side of the football field, located at West Fargo High School. MBN Engineering will spearhead the project, which will cost an estimated $145,400.
Business Manager Mark Lemer said that if there was any chance of work being completed by the fall season, construction would need to be completed immediately. Even so, "it likely won't be done prior to the first home game," he said.
And if for some reason the bleachers weren't in by the end of prep football, they would certainly be completed for spring track and field, Lemer said.
Lemer said that the design of the 500-seat bleacher system was the largest the field could comfortably accommodate without impacting current structures around the track, specifically the long jump pits.
Board member David Olson said it probably was a good idea that the bleachers be built as soon as possible.
"And you know, at some point in time, there may be two West Fargo teams playing there," he said.
In other news
Zerr Berg Architects was picked as the main architectural design for the construction of West Fargo Public School's new middle school. Flowers said six proposals were received for consideration, and of those four were selected for interviews. An Archistect Selected Team conducted the interviews July 6, and met two days later for the final decision for recommendation to the school board. "We spent three hours deliberating - our decision wasn't made lightly," Nitzkorski said.
The West Fargo Pioneer was unanimously selected as West Fargo Public School's official newspaper. For another year, all legal and public notices will be published in the weekly newspaper, which is available both by subscription and as an insert in The Forum. Forum subscribers in the West Fargo School District should also receive an issue of The Pioneer.