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Helmut Schmidt, Published February 12 2013

Fargo School Board: Bluestem advisory committee approved

FARGO – For the past few months, there’s been some angry talk over how the Bluestem Center should be run in south Moorhead.

Fargo School Board member John Strand hopes a new committee can turn the language of confrontation into honest communication.

The school board voted 9-0 Tuesday to create a nine-member Bluestem Facility Communications and Advisory Committee.

The plan, put forth by Strand in late January, calls for representatives from all of the stakeholders – the Fargo School District, Moorhead City Council, Trollwood Performing Arts School and arts groups – to meet and promote cooperation.

Strand called the committee “a cultural bridge … to breathe life into a partnership” between the groups over the future of the Bluestem Center, the home of the district’s Trollwood Performing Arts School.

Some Moorhead City Council members have called for more of an emphasis on diverse summer-long regional arts programming, while the school board has made it clear that they support a regional vision for the center, but not at the expense of TPAS.

An attempt by Strand to add a 10th member to the board, the Moorhead School District superintendent, failed to gain traction and was dropped.

Through the debate, board members made it clear the committee would focus its efforts on the Bluestem facility, and not try to run TPAS.

“I want it to be clear that this body is not going to direct the way Trollwood Performing Arts School is run,” Dinah Goldenberg said. “It’s not a voting group. It’s an advisory group.”

The group will be made up of: two members representing the Fargo School Board (chosen by the board president); two members representing the Moorhead City Council (chosen by the mayor); the superintendent of the Fargo School District; the Moorhead city manager; the director of TPAS; and two at-large members representing community arts organizations (one selected by the school board president and one by the Moorhead mayor).

“We want a stellar facility … that is celebrated on both sides of the river,” Strand said, adding that the vote will “move us into the next era.”

The plan must also be approved by the Moorhead City Council. Moorhead Council members Heidi Durand and Mark Altenburg said they liked the idea of the group.

Durand said she’d like to be able to find ways to expand use of the south Moorhead facility.

Altenburg called it a “fantastic” idea.

“I’ve been looking forward to it since last May or June,” he said. “Trollwood is here for the long term. Fargo (School Board) is here for the long-term. We want to have some solid communication.”

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

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