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School board undecided on next school's name

The West Fargo community will have to continue calling the district’s next school the “54th Street Elementary School” for at least two more weeks.

In Monday’s meeting, the West Fargo School Board was unable to agree on a name for the upcoming elementary school, which is set to open its doors in the fall of 2014.

The board has been receiving submissions from the community throughout the month of September, and of the 179 unique names submitted to the district, 16 were selected by the board members as finalists. The finalists were then individually ranked by each board member, the results of which were shared in Monday’s meeting.

The top three choices, in order, were Independence, Justice and Dakota Elementary School, but those proved to not be good enough.

Members of the board felt that the name Independence is too reminiscent of Minnesota’s Independent School Districts, and may also imply that the school is independent from the rest of the district.

The name Justice, on the other hand, was deemed too harsh for an elementary school by some members, as it has a connotation of punishment.

Current board policy indicates that the board should simply consider the top three choices, but because of the current situation, the board approved an amendment to this policy.

“If we have a problem with the top two choices, it makes no sense to be pigeonholed into having just one choice left,” board member Dave Olson said. “It defeats the purpose of coming here and talking about it.”

There is also a Dakota Elementary School near the Minot Air Force Base, according to business manager Mark Lemer.

There was also a push amongst a few board members to name the school David Flowers Elementary School, after the district’s current superintendent, but board policy states that district employees for which a school may be named must be out of the district for a minimum of two years. The board is also discussing a change in this policy.

The board will now take the top nine names — Independence, Justice, Dakota, Orion, Prairie Rose, Allegiance, David Flowers, Patriot and Courage — and rank them again. They will then choose the name from the top three choices during the October 28 meeting.

In other action, the board:

* Unanimously approved salary proposals for administrative and classified workers.

Salaries and benefits for classified staff will increase 4.94 percent for the 2013-14 school year and 4.92 percent for the 2014-15 school year, while administrative staff salaries and benefits will increase 3.05 percent in 2013-14 and 6.27 percent in 2014-15, according to human resources director Robin Hill.

* Unanimously approved the creation of a committee for long-range facility planning and studying of elementary boundaries across the district, focusing on changes in demographics and the potential addition of yet another elementary school.