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Kelly Smith, Published January 07 2010

West Fargo picks two school vote options

After three years of research, a failed referendum and numerous public input meetings, West Fargo school officials are now grappling with the question: How much public input is enough?

“If we have another one (failed referendum), we’re in deep trouble,” school board member Duane Hanson said Wednesday. “(But) I think we’ve talked this to death, quite frankly.”

After last June’s $65 million referendum failed, some voters voiced concern that the board hadn’t gotten enough public input for what was likely the largest referendum in the district’s history.

Since then, the board has surveyed the community and pared down projects.

With a tentatively scheduled March school building referendum fast approaching, the board picked two plans Wednesday that they think the public will back, aimed to help alleviate the space crunch at elementary, middle and high schools:

Both have estimated $40 million price tags.

Board members will meet Tuesday to decide whether to go to the public for input on these two options this month or choose one as a board to discuss with the public.

“At some point, we’ve got to pick a plan,” board member Patti Stedman said. “If it’s right now, I don’t know.”

What is certain, board members said Wednesday: They need a plan soon that the public will back.

“We’re here to pass a bond issue,” Hanson said. “We need to get what we can get. We don’t have a lot of time here, guys.”

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