WF School Board members up for re-election ponder whether to run again
Though West Fargo School Board elections are not until June, the political scene already is taking shape.
So far, of the four current school board members up for re-election, one has decided this will be his last term.
"I made the decision (to not run for re-election) back in July, and announced it in August at the first board retreat," said Tom Gentzkow, the current School Board President. "It's been a good run, but it's time to move on."
Of his 10 years with the West Fargo School Board, Gentzkow has been president for the past two. He said his choice in not running for another term stems from wanting to spend more time with his wife and daughter, who graduates from West Fargo High School this spring.
Though the deadline for election applications isn't until 4 p.m. on April 9, only one of the four members up for re-election, Duane Hanson, has yet to make a decision whether to run.
"I'm still discussing that with my wife," Hanson said. "I probably will make that decision in March."
Hanson currently is serving his third term and has been with the board for 11 years. He was president from 2003-08 and was vice president the year before.
"It's a big commitment, another four years is a long time," Hanson said. "We'll just have to see what happens."
Vice President Karen Nitzkorski and 12-year school board veteran Angela Korsmo both said they were running for re-election, but so far only Nitzkorski has filed her application.
"I feel like there are a lot of challenges ahead of us, and I'd like to see some continuity on the board," Nitzkorski said. "Our new members are doing a great job, but with these new challenges ahead, I'd like to be part of it."
Among the challenges Nitzkorski refers to are the ongoing search to replace Superintendent Dr. Dana Diesel Wallace, who is resigning June 30, and the passing of a school district bond referendum. The $65 million referendum was voted down last June, but board members hope a recent $25 million decrease will spur public support.
"I still believe in involvement," said Nitzkorski, who has been vice president since the 2008-09 school year and is in her 10th year on the board. "I'm passionate about our schools and this is a way I can serve."
Korsmo has yet to file her re-election application, but says she's "planning to."
"I think I have a good perspective, because when I got out of college I was a teacher," Korsmo said. "I am a parent with four kids who've gone through the West Fargo school system."
"And I've been a taxpayer for a long time, too," she said. "Because we do represent the taxpayers, we need to heed what they say."
Korsmo wants to be voted in for another term so she, too, can help tackle the several hurdles West Fargo will face in the coming years.
"When you build 2/3 of the original plan, you're going to have to come back to get more seats for kids in the future," she said, referring to the reworking of the bond referendum. "I don't think people realize just how many students we have."
Korsmo currently is a director on the school board, but from 2003-08 sat alongside Hanson as vice president.
Regular elections of school board members are conducted in conjunction with the June 8 Primary Election. Individuals interested in running for the school board must successfully complete an Affidavit of Candidacy and a Statement of Interest form. Both forms must be notarized and returned to the business manager, Joe Sykora, by 4 p.m. April 9. Sykora's office is located at West Fargo Public Schools, Leidal Education Center, 207 West Main Ave., West Fargo, ND, 58078.
At 4:15 p.m. April 9, placement of names on the ballot will be determined. Interested candidates may contact Sykora by phone at 701-356-2002 or at email@example.com.
After new school board members are sworn in, they will hold a vote during their first meeting in July to elect new officers. With Gentzkow voluntarily relinquishing his seat as president, it is anyone's guess as to who will lead the board.
Still, the school board will have its work cut out for it during the next few years.
"There's been a lot of changes," Gentzkow said, "and with the explosion of our student population, that drives a lot of the board's decisions."