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Five now vie for three open WF school board seats

By the time Friday's filing deadline rolled around, a fifth and final school board candidate had added her name to the pool for the election this summer.

West Fargo resident Gail Flom, a criminal investigator for the Department of the Treasury, filed her paperwork with the school district last Tuesday.

She joins four other candidates, including incumbents Kay Kiefer and Pattie Stedman, and newcomers Jeff Shirley and Shelley Treib.

The candidates are vying for three open school board seats. Aside from Kiefer's and Stedman's seats, Ben Koppelman's term also is up. The current board president will not be running for re-election, however, as he instead tries for the District 16 seat with the North Dakota House of Representatives.

School board elections coincide with the general elections, which will be held June 12. Also included on the ballot will be city commission, park board, and county commission seats.

Besides her work as a criminal investigator, Flom also is president of the Fargo-Moorhead Federal Executive Association. That professional experience, combined with her strong interest in the educational futures of her two children, is what makes her an ideal school board candidate, she said.

"I'd thought I should run for the school board a couple times," Flom said. "Then I went to a boundaries meeting at Aurora (Elementary school) and started asking all these questions. When I started walking out the door, a guy and gal said, 'You should run for the school board.'"

With its unprecedented growth, the West Fargo School District is quickly becoming one of the largest in the state. And with the passing of an $82 million building bond referendum last summer, officials are starting to take steps to handle their burgeoning student population.

Flom said she appreciates the efforts administration and staff have put in to this point, but she feels fresh blood is a good thing, too.

"I've been on committees, and it's always good to get fresh input," she said.

While there are many positives with West Fargo Public Schools - it's AVID program being one of them - Flom believes some changes are in order, beginning with food choices.

"I have a very picky eater, and there are times when he comes home and he's only eaten Doritos," said Flom, of her son. "Sometimes, I think (administration) needs to think about the individual student. ... I think kids, overall, are a lot pickier now than they used to be."

Flom admitted that picky eaters are partly products of parenting, but said having more options for individual tastes at meal time would be a step in the right direction.

Another possible change would be switching up what times younger and older students get home. Flom has children in middle school and elementary school, and because the younger one gets old before the older brother, arrangements must be made for daycare of babysitters.

"I would like to change the times so older kids are home earlier to watch their younger siblings," said Flom, who pointed to the advantages of such an arrangement with households where both parents work.

While Flom admitted she's never run for any election before, she believes her insight will be beneficial to the school board.

"This is a way for me to get more involved in the community," Flom said. "And just because something has been done for a long time, doesn't make it compatible with today's society. The school board needs someone who can think outside the box."