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Freedom, Liberty new school names in West Fargo

WEST FARGO - The school board opted for patriotism over personage Monday in naming West Fargo School District's two newest schools The schools, both south of Interstate 94, will be Freedom Elementary and Liberty Middle School. The elementary scho...

WEST FARGO - The school board opted for patriotism over personage Monday in naming West Fargo School District's two newest schools

The schools, both south of Interstate 94, will be Freedom Elementary and Liberty Middle School.

The elementary school choice was the easier decision thanks to its proximity to Veterans Boulevard, Board President Ben Koppelman said.

But there was a lively debate over the middle school moniker. Board members Angela Korsmo, Karen Nitzkorski and Patti Stedman pushed to name it after Florenz Bjornson, a former state representative and two-term mayor of West Fargo.

"She was a pioneer in many ways in our community," said Nitzkorski, who added that the district teaches its students to try to exceed expectations. "That name exceeds expectations for me."

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Kay Kiefer worried that Bjornson's name would be difficult to pronounce, while Dave Olson liked how Liberty connected with Veterans Boulevard.

In an informal poll, Olson, Kiefer and Judy Kvaale backed Liberty. Koppelman broke the tie, saying the district in recent years has moved away from naming schools after people. He added that he, too, was drawn by the patriotic symmetry.

Koppelman suggested that naming scholarships, auditoriums, locations or awards after local historic figures, such as Bjornson, would help keep their memories alive and honor them more often.

Next to be named is the new high school, which will be created by adding an academic wing, gym and other improvements to the Sheyenne 9th Grade Center site.

Some board members have indicated they're fine with sticking with Sheyenne as the school's name.

"At this point it appears likely, but by no means is that definite," Koppelman said. "The people that have attended there have an identity with that name, and it seems to be a positive one. And, I know that a lot of board members feel that should continue."

The elementary school is going up at the corner of 26th Avenue South and Fourth Street East. It will open this fall.

The middle school will be built just north of Sheyenne at the intersection of 36th Avenue South and what will be Seventh Street East. It opens in fall 2013.

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In other business, the board:

  • Voted 7-0 to hire another principal for the 2012-13 academic year. Eastwood Elementary Principal Jeff Johnson will be taking over as principal for Freedom Elementary. No decision has been made on whether Johnson's replacement would take over at Eastwood or another school, said Human Resources Director Robin Hill.

    The projected salary is $89,600 to $95,600 per year. With benefits and Social Security, total compensation rises to $116,000 to $124,000, Hill said.

  • Approved the 2012-13 school calendar. School begins Aug. 23 and ends May 23, with high school graduation on May 26.

    Students will be in classes 175 days and teachers are contracted for 187 days, which includes training and parent-teacher conferences.

    Winter vacation will be Dec. 22 through Jan. 1.

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

Related Topics: EDUCATIONWEST FARGO
Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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