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Final preparations made at two new sites

The West Fargo School Board approved agreements with the West Fargo Park District and the City of West Fargo, paving the way for full construction to begin at the Ninth Grade Center and the elementary school in Eagle Run.

The Board agreed to enter an agreement with the West Fargo Park District for access to the school, which will be a road off of Ninth Street West in Rendezvous Park shared by the Park and City. It also detailed the shared use of a playground purchased and placed on park land near the elementary school.

That system caused a bit of contention, as the Board balked a bit at the $100,000 price tag on the playground equipment recommended by the Park Board and West Fargo School District administrative team. That system, a PlayBooster structure, would be used by students during recess periods and then given park access during non-school hours.

But Business Manager Mark Lemer said the District will request bids for the structure, and the system can be bid in phases. If the price tag is too steep, the Board can reject some of the phases as alternates and build a more basic system.

I have nothing but respect for the Park Board, and I like the idea of sharing this space, Tom Gentzkow, Board member, said. I just dont know if Im ready to spend $100,000 on playground equipment.

Normally, the District appropriates about $30,000, or less than one third of that amount, towards playground equipment. South Elementary and the Early Childhood Center, which both received new playground systems after those schools were remodeled, were budgeted at that lesser amount.

A Joint Powers Agreement was also reached with the City of West Fargo for two water mains to be placed within the plat at the Eagle Run school site. That agreement was entered for the sum of one dollar.

The two 30-foot mains will be instrumental in serving the school itself, and will be able to handle future growth should the District choose to use the site for a second kindergarten center, something included in its long-range plan.

At the Ninth Grade Center location, which is at the intersection of 40th Avenue and Ninth Street East, the District entered another agreement with the City for water, sewer and street improvements. It also gives the Park District access to greenspace at the Ninth Grade Center during non-school hours.

This is nothing particularly controversial, Chuck Cheney, superintendent of West Fargo schools, said.

The agreement also allows the City to construct a bike path, designed to extend to paths coming from Eagle Run, some time in the future.

Work on both sites has already started, as crews have scraped topsoil and are ready to begin digging. Official groundbreakings have not been scheduled at this time.

Bjorklund recommends salary schedule

Bob Bjorklund, a consultant hired by the Board last February and president of Bjorklund Compensations Consulting, gave the Board an extensive report on his findings in regards to the pay scale used by the District for its administrative staff.

Bjorklund told the Board that the District had no real system outlined in how it determines its salaries, but that it was in good shape, paying salaries comparable at about the 75th percentile compared to 17 other Districts in the upper Midwest, including the Fargo School District. The rate is a bit higher when considering the Teachers Fund for Retirement system the District pays into each year, Human Resources Director Robin Hill added.

One flaw, which is shared by many public entities, he said, is that the more responsibility, the less competitive the salary.

Bjorklund suggested putting a schedule in place for the 17 positions, starting with the Food Service Director on the bottom of the scale and working up to the Superintendent of Schools.

You have a good thing, Bjorklund said. My recommendation is to give it some structure.