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Fourteen seek four seats on school board

Fourteen candidates, including the four incumbents, one former board member and a former teacher who retired early after allegations of misconduct, have filed to win one of the four seats up for election to the West Fargo School Board.

Former West Fargo High School history teacher and coach Jim Jonas filed for election to the board. Current President Kara Gravley-Stack of Horace as well as board members Jon L. Erickson, West Fargo; Shauna Vistad, Fargo; and Allan Skramstad, West Fargo, filed for re-election.

Former board member Jeff Shirley, Harwood, also filed for election. Shirley was narrowly defeated in the 2016 election that had eight candidates vying for three seats. Shirley lost his bid for re-election, falling 87 votes short of Dan Schaeffer, or less than 1 percent.

Some new faces filing for election include:

Summer Kristianson, West Fargo

Russell David Novacek, West Fargo

Aaron Mitchell West Fargo

Shelly Treib, West Fargo

Matuor Dot Alier, Fargo

Barry D. Miller, West Fargo

Ben Haney, Fargo

Jessica Anne Heilman, West Fargo

Miller and Trieb also ran for election in 2016. Trieb came in just behind Shirley after votes were counted.

After 26 years as a teacher, Jonas retired at the end of the school year in 2016 after West Fargo Principal Jennifer Fremstad recommended he be fired for his inability to change his behavior in the classroom. An evaluation conducted by Fremstad prior to his resignation showed that Jonas was put on an improvement plan following allegations of inappropriate interactions with students in 2015. The district offered $22,000 toward Jonas' early retirement if he resigned by the end of the 2015-16 school year, which he then accepted.

School district Business Manager Mark Lemer said it is the highest number of candidates to file for election in recent memory. Candidates needed to return candidacy applications by the 4 p.m. Monday, April 9, deadline

School board members are paid $8,810 annually and serve a four-year at-large term. The School board president is paid $9,440 per year.

Residents of the West Fargo School District, which includes those who live in West Fargo, Horace, Harwood, Reile's Acres and parts of Fargo, will cast their votes for school board members June 12.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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