West Fargo Schools moving to hire new superintendent

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West Fargo School Board officials hope to decide on a new superintendent by mid-March and will pay the candidate a starting salary of $200,000 which includes about $20,000 in retirement.

Business manager Mark Lemer said the final salary is negotiable depending on the experience and qualifications of the final candidate.

Superintendent David Flowers, who has been superintendent since 2010, currently earns about $206,000 and about $28,000 in retirement.

The board entered into an executive session after its meeting on Monday, Jan. 8 to discuss the superintendent salary that will be offered to candidates.

The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer objected to the closed door discussion citing open meeting laws that allow executive sessions only when "regarding a pending claim, litigation, adversarial administrative proceedings, or contracts, which are currently being negotiated or for which negotiation is reasonably likely to occur in the immediate future."

However, Flowers said earlier in the day that the meeting qualified to be closed because the discussion could have adverse fiscal effects on the district, which is an exemption under the law.

Flowers announced his plan to retire on June 30 in December, shortly after Fargo Superintendent Jeff Schatz and Moorhead Superintendent Lynne Kovash announced they are also retiring from their respective districts.

The Fargo School Board has agreed that the "base salary will be in the range of $210,000," for Schatz's replacement, but that could be adjusted up or down depending on experience and qualifications.

Schatz is now paid, with his performance bonus, $210,000 a year.

Human Resources Director Robin Hill said applications will be due by Feb. 18.

"I would like to open up applications as early as possible, by next week," Hill said at a committee meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 3. "The way we communicate today online and the speed we interchange information, things move fast."

The board expects to begin interviewing candidates by the first week of March and the school board would approve a contract for the new hire at its April 9 meeting.

Before district officials begin interviewing applicants, Hill said the board will hold meetings with staff and community members in February to get feedback on qualities they would like to see in a new superintendent.

The district is looking for someone with eight years of educational leadership experience and prefers someone with experience in a larger district.

Although North Dakota does requires only a master's degree with superintendent credentials, West Fargo School Board members said they will prefer candidates with a doctorate degree or those pursuing a doctorate, but it will not be a requirement for candidates.

"It can move someone up but it doesn't eliminate anyone," Board President Kara Gravely-Stack said Jan. 3.

The West Fargo School Board decided it would handle the search internally rather than hire a consulting firm before the new year.