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Forum Editorial: We endorse Knutson, Nelson, Burkland, Clark and Dei for Fargo School Board

Editorial FSA
We are part of The Trust Project.

The Fargo School Board would benefit from the continued leadership of two veteran members and the fresh ideas of three newcomers.

We support Rebecca Knutson, Robin Nelson, Melissa Burkland, Greg Clark and Nyamal Dei in the June 14 Fargo School Board Election.

Knutson has served eight years on the school board and twice has been elected president. She vows to provide “steady, sensible leadership.” Her common-sense style of leadership has been to seek consensus and to avoid divisive statements.

She advocates small class sizes, supporting staff and prudent financial stewardship. The greatest challenges, in her view, include the need for tough financial decisions, addressing staff shortages through recruitment and retention.

At the same time, Knutson is aware of the importance of removing barriers to access and to promote equity and inclusion while also addressing student’s social and emotional needs, heightened by the strains of the pandemic.

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Nelson is a veteran member. She has led the board’s governmental affairs committee, requiring her to form strong relationships on both sides of the political aisle at the Capitol in Bismarck, and is versed in legislative procedures.

Influence in Bismarck will be crucial, since the school board can’t raise property taxes further without voter approval. The state, on the other hand, has ample reserves and an obligation to support local education.

Nelson advocates working to ensure student success, educator recruitment and retention as well offering well-rounded opportunities.

While Knutson and Nelson provide institutional knowledge and continuity, Burkland, Clark and Dei offer fresh perspectives.

Burkland, an assistant U.S. attorney, places retaining and supporting educators, recruiting and attracting excellent teachers, and ensuring all students are accepted at the top of her priority list.

The problem of educators leaving the profession because of the pandemic, and recovering from the pandemic, are challenges that Burkland said must be addressed.

Burkland would bring strong analytical, negotiating and decision-making skills to the board.

Clark, a data analyst who is married to a teacher, studied education policy in graduate school. Staff recruitment and retention, ensuring an equitable learning environment for all students, and rebuilding public trust through open communication and transparency top his priorities.

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He notes that local property taxes contribute 29% of the district’s budget, and advocates tapping state reserves to increase teacher pay.

Dei would make family engagement, support for educators, and addressing mental health concerns as well as more attention to inclusion and diversity her top objectives. She sees closing achievement gaps, supporting educators and creating a safe environment for students and teachers as the biggest challenges facing the district.

As for the budget, Dei doesn’t advocate raising property taxes, but would urge the North Dakota Legislature to do more to support education.

Together, these candidates support the right priorities and bring valuable experience and background to the table. We endorse Knutson, Nelson, Burkland, Clark and Dei in the June 14 Fargo School Board election.

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