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Public input needed in search for superintendent

The West Fargo school district is in need of a new superintendent and administrators are asking the public for help.

An open forum is being held in February for people to discuss what traits they would like to see in possible candidates.

"As I understand it from (Human Resources Director Robin Hill), it's going to look something like a survey," said Heather Leas, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent. "What would be your top 10 qualities in the next superintendent?"

The idea for a public forum was brought up during the West Fargo School Board's midyear retreat last week, Leas said. It goes along the same lines as the last search for a superintendent when Dr. Dana Diesel Wallace was hired in 2006.

Some vocal outside groups have clamored for public input since word first came out Dec. 14, about Diesel Wallace's resignation, but Leas said the public forum wasn't put in place just to appease the masses.

"Hill brought in the timeline we used during the last superintendent search," Leas said. "So this (public forum) isn't anything new. We're doing the same thing we did last time."

The forum - to be held at the Leidel Education Center, 207 Main Ave. W, West Fargo - will be spread across three days from 7-8 p.m. and will be open to a different group of people each day. Students are asked to come to the Tuesday, Feb. 9 meeting, members of the community on Wednesday, Feb. 10, and district staff on Thursday, Feb. 11.

"We are going to do the three different groups so that everyone has a chance to come in," Leas said. "But we are asking people to RSVP in case space becomes an issue and it needs to be moved."

Participants are asked to either call Leas at 356-2000 or e-mail by Monday, Feb. 8.

According the a West Fargo Public Schools flier about the open forum, participants also will have an opportunity to be a part of the superintendent candidate interview process in April, but it will be limited to space availability.

Odds and ends

• The West Fargo School Board unofficially decided Friday, Jan. 22, to move forward with plans for a building referendum after architects confirmed that two new buildings can be built for $25 million less than last June's failed referendum. West Fargo voters will go to the polls March 23, to decide this referendum's fate. The board first must approve the plan to officially put it on the ballot. In the new $40 million plan, a new high school was cut down to contain fewer students as was a new elementary school in south Fargo. Also, Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center becomes a new middle school, but is left physically unchanged.

• At the School Board meeting Monday, Jan. 25, the board unanimously approved leave requests for two staff members. Kristie Knott, a speech language pathologist at Horace Elementary, requested the leave of absence from Feb. 1-March 15, in order to take care of her young son and "avoid placing an infant in a daycare setting during the flu season." Nicole Manson, an ELL English and Math teacher at Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center, requested a leave of absence from Jan. 26-Aug., to "fulfill the job requirements of the ELL Coordinator position for the West Fargo Public Schools."

• First readings of board policies were conducted at Monday's meeting. A second reading will be held at a future meeting for adoption of the policies. Readings included the board policy on use of school buildings for other than school purposes, the policy on enrollment requirements, and the policy on report cards.

• Also at Monday's meeting, the school board unanimously approved the audit report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. The report is completed under GASB 34 requirements, and is to review transactions to determine compliance with federal and state laws. It also expresses an opinion on the school district's reports accurately reflecting expenditures and revenues.