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Helmut Schmidt, Published August 21 2010

Central Cass looks to expand school

The Squirrels’ nest needs to grow.

At least, that’s what top Central Cass officials think.

With the school year in Casselton, N.D., set to start Monday, the School Board, administrators and teachers are trying to determine the district’s most pressing needs and just how big of an addition to the K-12 school complex they may ask voters to approve.

Superintendent Mark Weston wants a plan that enhances curriculum and is cost-effective. He said that’s something the public will embrace, not “a wish list.”

“We don’t want to take it (to voters) that way. We don’t think that sells well that way,” he said.

Weston said the district has four needs:

Earlier this year, an architect recommended an expansion expected to cost $6.5 million to $7.75 million, School Board President Keith Gohdes said. That seemed unlikely to be approved, he said.

Gohdes said the board picked three of its members, Scott Kost, Deb Roesler and Pat Knudson, to meet with community leaders, including farmers and business people.

“We need to find out what the voters, what the patrons, want,” Gohdes said.

He said there isn’t a timetable for the decision.

Meanwhile, Weston and other administrators will work with teachers.

Weston also said the district is dedicated to building professional learning communities. He said 26 staff members went to Minneapolis a week ago and came back energized.

“There’s an incredible enthusiasm right now about trying to get better at our trade, which is teaching,” he said.

Central Cass has one of the earliest starts among area schools, Weston said of Monday’s start.

District officials are using the extra days to adjust the school calendar so the semester ends before Christmas. That way, Weston said, students won’t take finals after a long layoff and teachers have time to prep for the start of the next semester.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583