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West Fargo School Board: Superintendent search to be regionally focused

The West Fargo School Board voted unanimously at Monday's meeting to search regionally for Superintendent Dr. Dana Diesel Wallace's replacement.

Wallace, who came to West Fargo in 2006 from Raleigh, N.C., announced her resignation Dec. 14. Her last day will be June 30.

The school board also decided to use internal resources rather than hire an outside firm. Human Resources Director Robin Hill said her department would be more than capable of doing the search, especially since during the previous search for a superintendent, "the leg work was all done by my department," she said.

Financial reasons also played a part in using administrative resources rather than hiring a firm. School Board President Thomas Gentzkow said the previous search resulted in a price tag of more than $30,000 dollars, of which roughly $20,000 was paid to the firm and $10,000 was the cost from expenses accrued when bringing in the final six candidates for questioning.

Still, there was some concern as to whether public input would be allowed or heard when selecting candidates.

"The parents and community leaders have an active role in the education of our youth," said Joan Connor, West Fargo Education Association President. "Providing them the ability to corroborate with the district to make this final decision will yield the selection of a superintendent (who) will continue the growth of our district in a positive manner. ...

"(We) feel it would benefit all in the education field if the community were also allowed a shared voice in that final decision."

Gentzkow agreed input from community members was valid, but stressed that the ultimate decision of choosing a superintendent should fall on the shoulders of school board members alone.

"What I'm hearing a lot of (recently) is groups want to help select the superintendent," he said. "I'm very cautious with that, because if something should go awry during a superintendent's tenure, then who is responsible? It comes down to the individuals of the board who sit at this table that are responsible and not necessarily the parents that helped select, or community members that helped select."

Gentzkow also highlighted the importance of taking time to go through the selection process correctly.

"We don't take finding a superintendent lightly, by any means," he said. "It is the one thing a board does in their career that can set a district for many, many years. And we take that with great, great care.

"To the board members, understand that, it is a very, very important responsibility, not only for us as board members, but for the future students of this district, and parents and all the players within our district. ... and you may never get this chance again. Ever."


• School Board elections were discussed Monday. Regular election of school board members are conducted in conjunction with the June 8, Primary Election. The West Fargo School District has four school board members whose four-year terms expire in June. They are Gentzkow, Duane Hanson, Angela Korsmo and Karen Nitzkorski. Individuals interested in running for the school board must successfully complete and Affidavit of Candidacy and a Statement of Interest form. Both forms must be notarized and returned to the business manager by 4 p.m. Friday, April 9. The business manager'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 the business manager by phone at 701-356-2002 or at for more information.

• Letters of resignation for four West Fargo School District employees were approved at Monday's school board meeting. They were West Fargo High School Assistant Principal Karen Olson, English Language Learner coordinator Kerri Whipple, and elementary school teachers Nancy Jones and Mary Hansen.

• The board approved the salary increase for Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis. Therefore, she will receive a 3.2 percent this year, or $127,840 in salary and $138,580 in total compensation. Next year, Dardis will receive a 4.5 percent raise, or $133, 590 and $144,813 in total compensation. The board noted that this raise was in line with other district pay increases.

• The calendar for the 2010-11 school year, as laid out by the Calendar Committee, was approved during Monday's board meeting. The first day of school for the 2010-11 school year is Aug. 31, and the last day is June 2.