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West Fargo superintendent pool whittled down to four

During a special meeting Monday, the West Fargo School Board whittled down a pool of 19 prospective superintendent applicants to four.

"This is a really good pool of candidates," school board Vice President Karen Nitzkorski said.

"And just because they don't make this list, doesn't mean they aren't good candidates," board member Angela Korsmo said.

The remaining candidates are: Northern Cass Superintendent Allen Burgad of Hunter, N.D., West Fargo Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis, former Fargo and current Hutchinson, Kan., Superintendent David Flowers, and Perham-Dent Superintendent Tamara Uselman.

The four were chosen mainly because of experience, regional ties and proven track records.

The school board initially decreased the pool of 19 applicants to six, with Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center Principal Greg Grooters, and Crosby-Ironton Superintendent Jamie Skjeveland among them, but both failed to make the final list.

Though Skjeveland had a doctorate, he did not have the experience in a large enough district, the board said. Grooters, meanwhile, was a tougher decision, as board members Ben Koppelman and Kay Kiefer voted to keep him. But after some discussion, it was decided Grooters didn't yet have the necessary experience to run a large school district such as West Fargo.

"He has risen through the district, which shows a positive track record," Nitzkorski said.

"The timing just isn't the best," board member Patti Stedman said. The board cited Grooters' doctorate and district knowledge as other accolades.

Burgad and Uselman made the cut because of their superintendent experience, though they were in smaller school districts, the board said.

Dardis was chosen because, "even though she doesn't have superintendent experience, she does have central office experience," board member Duane Hanson said.

"She's a known commodity," Korsmo said. "We know who she is and how she works." Dardis' one negative was that she has yet to get a doctorate, but is "a mere dissertation short," Korsmo said.

The board hopes to begin interviewing the four candidates within the next couple weeks. Students, staff and community members who participated in February input meetings then will get a chance to interview the finalists.

The board hopes to make an offer for Superintendent Dana Diesel Wallace's replacement by early May. The new hire will begin work July 1, with a salary between $140,000 and $160,000.