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Helmut Schmidt, Published March 27 2012

Fargo School Board works up superintendent contract

FARGO – School Board members juggled payroll and property issues Tuesday, debating a salary for their choice for the school district’s next superintendent, and making a counteroffer to a local biotech firm to sell Woodrow Wilson school.

The board voted 7-2 to propose a salary of $160,000 with $10,000 in performance pay, based on whether Jeff Schatz meets the objectives set for him during his first year as superintendent.

Schatz is currently principal of Fargo Davies High School.

The proposed salary will go into a draft contract that will be brought back to the board for approval in April.

Board members also agreed to make the initial contract for one year.

Current Superintendent Rick Buresh has a two-year contract.

The draft includes a $5,000 allowance per year for expenses.

Approval to create a draft contract for the board to review and vote on in April came on an 8-1 vote, with John Strand dissenting.

Schatz will have a chance to negotiate the contract’s terms once the board makes a formal offer.

The board also voted 9-0 to offer Woodrow Wilson and the land it sits on to Fargo-based Aldevron for $800,000, asking for an answer in two weeks.

The district has tried to sell the property for a year. The asking price started at $1.45 million, but dropped to $1.1 million in an earlier counteroffer to Aldevron.

Aldevron’s latest offer was not released.

The firm argues that getting the property back on the tax rolls would benefit the taxpayers in the long run.

Aldevron calculates that making Woodrow Wilson its new home would provide $2 million in property tax revenue over 20 years, with $1.2 million of that going to the district.

While board members want to sell the building, there are also indications some of them are tired of the protracted negotiations, or unhappy with the offers from Aldevron so far.

Kris Wallman at one point asked the board to consider making the latest offer a “firm” price, though she later withdrew that request.

Dinah Goldenberg indicated that she, too, might be unwilling to see the property be sold for less.

“How many games do they want to play?” she asked. “If they don’t want to pay that, fine. Let’s move on,” she said.

Aldevron has more than 70 employees between facilities in Fargo; Madison, Wis.; and Freiburg, Germany.


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