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Kelly Smith, Published April 15 2009

West Fargo School Board postpones $65 million building referendum

The West Fargo School Board decided unanimously Tuesday to delay a $65 million school building referendum until June 9.

The election, which will ask taxpayers to support five new building projects, was originally slated for May 19.

Tuesday’s action follows the consensus of a group of parents, teachers and students who met with administrators last week and supported moving the referendum to June. School Board members agreed, saying the district needs more time to get word out.

Voters likely will be asked to approve:

Pushing the referendum back three weeks won’t delay the building projects, said architect Julie Rokke of Moorhead-based YHR Partners.

The West Fargo Education Association welcomed good news Tuesday about a staff survey some teachers hope will shed light on whether low morale is districtwide.

District officials and the survey company said last week that time was too tight to complete the survey by the end of the school year, as planned. But Tuesday, the School Board directed those involved to “step it up.”

“There’s a lot of frustration on the table because it just hasn’t gotten done,” said board member Duane Hanson. “Let’s just do it and get it done.”

Survey consultants with The Village Family Service Center of Fargo will meet next week with nine district staff members selected randomly to participate in a panel to determine survey questions. John Trombley, a consultant with the organization, said Tuesday that the survey will be out to employees between May 6 and 13.

Board members are frustrated over the delay. They approved a staff survey in February, but Trombley said The Village wasn’t contracted until March 26.

“I’m not trying to point fingers,” said board member Ben Koppelman. “But I’ve been very disappointed with the communication along this process. To me, to take five or six weeks to even get a contract signed … it’s kind of unacceptable.”

“We’re really asking you to step it up,” added board member Karen Nitzkorski about getting the surveys completed before school gets out.

Superintendent Dana Diesel Wallace doesn’t know what caused delays.

“I don’t think there was good communication between The Village and the district,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515