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'Now the work begins'

With a successful bond referendum behind him, the next big job facing Superintendent David Flowers was tweaking the West Fargo School District's strategic plan to conform to 20th century advancements.

On Monday, that plan got the nod to move on to the next phase.

In a 5-0 vote, the school board approved a final draft of the strategic plan, which Flowers said had been worked on for nearly a year. Members Ben Koppelman and Angela Korsmo were not in attendance Monday.

"What a year ... we can be proud," school board president Karen Nitzkorski said.

But Flowers cautioned that now was not the time to coast.

"Just like with the bond referendum, now the work begins," he said.

A 38-member task force - comprised of parents, teachers, administrators and board members - was commissioned by the board to tackle reworking the current strategic plan. Since then, the task force met six times before handing in a first draft to the school board for its February retreat, Flowers said.

The strategic plan then was sent out to receive additional input, and was presented 19 times between February and June to both faculty and community focus groups. Consequently, each group responded to surveys intended to gauge support for the plan, and solicit input in regards to possible modification, Flowers said.

In large part, the district's strategic plan has stayed the same, Flowers said. But there were key changes, including a new mission statement: "Educating today's learners for tomorrow's world."

Other changes include:

• A correction in the key indicators section under Goal 1, which included adding science and social studies to math and reading.

• Clarification that the ACT Core courses mentioned in Goal 2's key indicators includes taking two years of foreign language. Flowers was careful to note that this will not be mandatory for graduation, but instead will be assessed based on the percent of students complying with the recommendation.

• Emphasizing monitoring the incidences of reported bullying to Goal 3.3, life and career skills.

• Rewording of goal 1.4, which states: "Commit to each student's academic and behavioral success through quality differentiation of instruction, early intervention, alternative programs and special services, including gifted and talented."

The board's approval of the strategic plan means now development of the operational plan for 2011-12 can begin, Flowers said.

Bids approved

Also Monday, several bids for various projects across the district were approved by the board.

YHR Partners, a contracting company that has worked hand-in-hand with West Fargo during recent projects, was given the go-ahead to move forward with elementary school construction.

Consequently, the same three contracts who currently are working on the Osgood Kindergarten Center were awarded bids for the construction of the new elementary school.

The lowest base bids for the new elementary school totaled slightly more than $8,8 million, which is more than $326,000 less than the original estimate, business manager Mark Lemer said.

Of that $8.8 million, Rochon Corportation's bid of more than $6 million was awarded for general construction. Rochon was not the immediate lowest bid, which originally was to Minko Construction's price of nearly $5.7 million. Upon further investigation, Lemer said Minko informed them they had had made a "gross mathematical error" and requested to have their bid released.

S.A. Mechanical was awarded their bid of nearly $1.8 million for mechanical work, Scott's Electric's bid of $977.560 was lowest for electrical work, and Braun Intertec will assure quality assurance at a cost of $30,370.

"Knock on wood, so far, so good," Lemer said, of working with the three contractors up to this point.

Pool fees increase

During the last school board meeting, co-curricular activities fees were raised slightly across the board after 20 years at the same level.

On Monday, the board approved fees to also increase at the L.E. Berger Pool.

As with the co-curricular activity fees, pool fees have remained the same for some time, and athletic director Curt Jones said they needed to increase to get "closer to area pools." Even with the modest increases, which ranged from a $.50 increase for individual day passes to $8 for a family summer pass, "we're still substantially lower than our neighbors," Jones said.

Swimming coach Marsha Dahl said that the increase is merely a first step, and that the issue would need to be revisited down the road.