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WF Education Foundation gets new lease on life

A nonprofit organization that has been dormant for more than a decade got a jumpstart Monday at the West Fargo School Board meeting.

Spurred by "a group of spirited and ambitious supporters of West Fargo public education," the West Fargo Education Foundation received the unanimous go-ahead from the board to begin anew.

Board member Karen Nitzkorski credited Greg Tehven, a 2003 graduate from West Fargo High School, with spearheading the movement to revive the WFEF.

"We're really enthusiastic," Tehven said. "We see the resources (of WFEF) as supporting the district's strategic plan. And it's a chance to give back; a chance to say, 'thank you.'"

According to a litter written to the school board, the WFEF was established in 1987 as a nonprofit corporation. While it did transact some business early on, since 1990 WFEF has been virtually nonexistent.

Since its inception, however, the West Fargo Public Schools business office has annually maintained WFEF's books and paid the required state-imposed fees. In other words, despite 12 years of inactivity, the Foundation is still a recognized, legal, nonprofit corporation in North Dakota.

Sydney Greenlund, a recent West Fargo grad, and Mark Staples, an incoming senior, were on hand Monday to formally request that the school board approve the group's newly drafted bylaws.

For Nitzkorski, having a group like WFEF come back to light will do nothing but benefit the district and its students.

"To get from good to great, you need great leadership, and we definitely have great leaders here," she said.

Tehven said WFEF will be utilized to support the district in ways outside of its jurisdiction, including scholarships, grants and supplementing its financial needs.

According to the newly accepted bylaws, the purpose of the WFEF includes providing and promoting education opportunities and assistance to youth, and to receive and administer funds for scientific, educational, and charitable purposes.

Greenlund sees being part of WFEF's revival as giving back to a district that shaped her into the person she is today.

"West Fargo really helped me find who I was," she said, adding, "If you take the opportunities at West Fargo, you can't go wrong."

Plans now are for WFEF to begin operation in July, which is the beginning of the new fiscal year. At that time, a school board member also will be chosen to operate as a director, one of 12-20 that will act as a board.

Of those directors, one will be annually chosen by the superintendent, one by the school board, and one by the West Fargo Education Assocation. Three student directors - one from West Fargo High School, one from Sheyenne High School and one from Community High School - also will be annually picked by the student council.

Also on Monday, the school board approved a measure to authorize administration to contract for the construction of the fitness area at Cheney Middle School.

With a similar addition to the high school and plans for the same at Sheyenne, it "makes sense to look at Cheney Middle School," business manager Mark Lemer said.

Walls will be added to the wrestling room, enclosing an area that will house fitness and weight-lifting equipment. This ultimately also allows for addition teaching space, which was the main goal, Lemer said.

Because the cost estimate is lower than mandated, no bid process will take place.

Lemer said that, because they are operating in a defined space, the fitness area at Cheney likely will be smaller than a proposed space at the new Liberty Middle School.