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Published June 06 2010

Forum editorial: Four for West Fargo School Board

When 13 candidates are vying for only four openings on a school board, a couple of conclusions can be drawn. One, support for schools is so strong, lots of good people want to serve. Or two, there’s trouble.

In the West Fargo School District, it’s some of both. Support for the schools is strong. But erosion of trust plus the perception of communication lapses have added up to trouble.

So what’s to be done to right the school district’s listing ship? To hear some candidates tell it, the incumbents should be tossed out in favor of completely new – and untested – replacements. That’s a bad idea.

The smarter option is to re-elect incumbents Angela Korsmo and Karen Nitzkorski, who have been tested in the recent controversies and conducted themselves with intelligence and dignity. Additionally, first-time candidates Rhonda Hawley and Judy Kvaale are more than prepared to go to work for public education in West Fargo.

Korsmo understands the dynamics of the growing district by virtue of her service since 1997. She’s seen the good times and the troubled times and at all times has put the education of students first. She favors a second high school in order to extend opportunities to kids. Her office on a state education board gives West Fargo a strong voice in state education issues that will affect West Fargo.

Nitzkorski is passionate about education and pleased that Dr. David Flowers is the new superintendent. He’s an inspired hire. She’s spot-on when she says the board has to retain members who hired Flowers. While two building referenda failed, she notes that the last vote was very close to the 60 percent majority, which suggests most West Fargo voters liked what they saw. She’s determined to work hard to pass a measure acceptable to district patrons.

Hawley’s enthusiasm and fresh voice are just what the board needs. Unlike several hopefuls on the ballot, she’s interested in fixing problems, not merely pointing them out. She describes progress as moving forward, not falling into the conflicts of the past. Articulate, informed and rooted in West Fargo, she would work to ensure the district is seen as one rather than north and south.

Kvaale would bring nearly 30 years of classroom experience to the board, and every school board should embrace that knowledge. Her understanding of the needs of the classroom would have a salutary effect on board policy, which, after all, is supposed to enhance education. She would be a voice for teachers, which is necessary because teachers have felt ignored in the past couple of years.

Endorsing four of 13 does not mean others are not qualified to serve. But West Fargo needs more than minimal qualifications. The district needs experience, intelligence, dedication, enthusiasm and vision. It does not need single-issue candidates who tend to look backward. Korsmo, Nitzkorski, Hawley and Kvaale are looking forward.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.