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Published April 16 2010

West Fargo School Board interviews Flowers for superintendent job

Former Fargo superintendent David Flowers is ready for “one more good move” – perhaps to West Fargo.

During his nearly two-hour job interview with the West Fargo School Board on Thursday, Flowers offered up how he’d run the school district and board if chosen as the district’s next superintendent.

“It’s a great district,” he said. “It has huge potential for the future.”

Flowers, the superintendent in Hutchinson, Kan., is one of four candidates the school board is interviewing this week for the top spot.

Northern Cass Superintendent Allen Burgad and Perham-Dent (Minn.) Superintendent Tamara Uselman will be interviewed on Sunday. West Fargo Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis will be interviewed on Tuesday.

On Thursday, about a dozen school board candidates and district staff observed Flowers’ interview with the board.

In it he discussed his 37-year educational career and touted his experience with facility and operational planning, ability to smooth unpopular decisions, emphasis on a student-centered vision and work at building trust with the community.

“Trust is not something that comes with the position; it’s something that has to be earned,” he said. “And the only way I know how to achieve that is through time and through personal interaction and through demonstration that what you say is what you mean. I don’t know any shortcut to that.”

In a school district with reported low teacher morale and, as board members have described, a “communications challenge,” several of the board members’ questions centered on how he’d stay in tune with the staff and community.

Flowers said he’d work to establish two-way, consistent communication with staff and the community as well as be visible at school and community events.

As for reworking the district’s strategic plan or addressing space needs after two failed bond referendums, Flowers said he’d turn to the community for input.

“The board and superintendent can’t do it,” he said. “You have to have leadership and grass-roots connections in the community.”

After eight years in Fargo, he left in 2007 for Kansas to be with his wife’s and his aging parents. Now, with the

58-year-old’s two daughters living in Fargo, he and his wife would like to return.

“My reasons are both personal and professional,” he said. “I think I have one more good move in me.”

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