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Blanket discipline policy to go into effect for all WF elementary schools

In the past, rules about disciplining students could vary from one elementary school to the next, even in the same school district.

Not anymore.

During Monday's West Fargo School Board meeting, Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis explained how recently passed legislation has changed the way schools create and implement policies pertaining to student behavior and discipline.

Besides eliminating the use of corporal punishment, a caveat of Senate bill 2289 was to make elementary schools within a district enforce consistent student discipline across campuses.

By the end of September, all elementary schools in the West Fargo School District will follow this guideline.

Dardis said the Consistent Student Discipline Committee has met since last December to collaborate and create a blanket policy for West Fargo's elementary schools. The committee consisted of representatives from the district's 11 elementary schools.

Although there was some dispute with representatives specifically wanting to adopt rules that closely resembled their respective schools, Dardis said consensus eventually was made and a policy created.

Handbooks currently are being created at a local printing shop, and will be distributed soon, Dardis said. Rollout of the policy will take place Sept. 29. Posters also will be displayed in classrooms and around elementary schools, but she is asking that teachers do not laminate them as the policy likely will not be finalized until May.

Part of what the committee needed to figure out was how to show students what was expected of them, and what the consequences would be if those behavioral expectations were not met.

Color-coded referral notices also will be implemented. These will allow administrators and staff to follow behavioral problems of a student. If a student were to transfer to a different school and teachers were suddenly faced with behavior problems, they could look at the student's history and see if there was a pattern, Dardis said.

Creating a blanket discipline policy not only meets the requirements of SB-2289, but it also addresses concerns brought forth by the West Fargo Communication Committee on having consistent rules across schools, Superintendent David Flowers said.

Besides possible tweaks, there is one element to the policy that remains.

"The last piece of the puzzle is to figure out how to reward students for good behavior," Dardis said.

Investors favor WFPS bonds

Both West Fargo Business Manager Mark Lemer and PFM Group Managing Director Myron Knutson were more than happy with bids received for the sale of the school district's bonds.

The district received eight bids for its bond sale of $67.2 million, which was "very favorable," Knutson said. "We would have been happy with five."

"The market is hungry for these types of bonds," Lemer said.

The lowest bid was for 3.49 percent interest over 20 years, a rate that Knutson said he had never seen in more than 30 years on the job. Knutson was the lead bond advisor and helped coordinate the sale of the bonds.

The winning bid also was for more than $2 million over the value of the district's bonds, which means taxpayers will see a break on property taxes.

"Over time, this will reduce the number of mills we need to levy," Lemer said.

Another factor helping WFPS was its credit rating, which Aa3 from Moody, and AA-minus by Standard and Poor.

Lemer said he attempted to enroll the district into a state credit enhancement program, but the process was not yet completed, and likely would not be in time. Although the program could have helped even further improve West Fargo's credit score, "it may have only been as good as what it has now," Knutson said.

Lemer also presented the board with his annual business manager's report. The district's revenue was $72.8 million last year, and its ending balance was more than $12.7 million. The year before, WFPS had an ending balance of roughly $8 million.

Last year, WFPS had expenditure of $68.6 million, Lemer said.