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Kelly Smith, Published December 12 2009

West Fargo School Board to evaluate Diesel Wallace

The West Fargo School Board will grade the district’s top leader Monday.

Superintendent Dana Diesel Wallace will be evaluated by the board, which will approve her salary for this year in the next month.

After Monday, raises are expected to be approved for all staff in West Fargo except for Diesel Wallace and Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis.

Historically, the top two district leaders have received comparable salary raises to what district staff, namely teachers, receive.

In the past, the 11 coordinators have been classified as teachers, receiving the same raises as teachers.

Earlier this year, though, coordinators asked the district to classify them as administrators due to their responsibilities and non-classroom duties.

Fargo Human Resources Director Nancy Jordheim said the district’s coordinators and directors are also deemed administrators.

West Fargo School Board member Ben Koppelman argued, though, that while coordinators should be classified apart from teachers, they shouldn’t receive the same benefits as administrators.

“There’s no doubt coordinators are their own animal,” he said. “(But) I don’t think the purpose was so much a promotion ... and whether they fit in the box with administrators, I don’t necessarily agree.”

On Monday, the board is expected to approve raises that match coordinators’ job descriptions but aren’t as high as the administration recommended.

“For several years they have been underpaid,” Diesel Wallace said.

Koppelman agreed, adding: “We’re disagreeing on what level.”

Moving coordinators out of the teacher category will cost the district about $18,000 this year.

The average increase for the coordinators will be 5.63 percent; it won’t include annuities.

It will still benefit them, Koppelman said, adding: “Most of them will get more of a pay raise than if they had stayed (classified as) teachers.”

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