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Forum Editorial: We support incumbents Jonas, Jackson, Erickson and Staples for West Fargo School Board

The West Fargo School District is operating smoothly and has been able to stay on top of the continued growth in enrollment. That’s a testament, in no small part, to the oversight of the West Fargo School Board.

Editorial FSA
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There’s been remarkably little drama in the West Fargo School District of late. That’s unusual, given the sometimes bitter divisions over policies to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic that have torn some districts.

The West Fargo School District is operating smoothly and has been able to stay on top of the continued growth in enrollment. That’s a testament, in no small part, to the oversight of the West Fargo School Board.

The board members appear collegial with one another, which helps to avoid the acrimony and disharmony that plagues some school boards, and to keep the focus where it belongs, on education.

For these reasons, all of the incumbent board members should be elected to another term in the June 14 election. There’s really no reason to upset this apple cart. We support Jim Jonas, the current president; Jessica Jackson, the current vice president, and members Jon Erickson and Mark Staples.

Jonas, the current board president, is a retired West Fargo teacher and coach. If re-elected, his top priorities include ensuring that all students have a high-quality education. He would advocate for teachers and staff while helping students deal with “unprecedented academic, emotional and social challenges."

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He sees the greatest challenges including teacher resignations, burnout and low morale, which make retention difficult. Student success, he believes, begins with teacher success. Jonas also is seeking a seat in the North Dakota House of Representatives. That position would benefit the district and said the Legislature “can and must increase funding for students and teachers.”

The district’s continued rapid growth, Jonas and other incumbents noted, poses challenges in ensuring equitable education for all students.

Jackson, the current board vice president, lists managing growth, preparing “today’s students for tomorrow’s world,” and collaborating with the business community to prepare students vocationally.

The district’s “unprecedented growth” will require planning and foresight, she noted. It also will require fiscally responsible decision-making.

Erickson believes wellness and mental health of the district’s students and staff is of utmost importance. Another priority is maintaining substitute teachers and staff. After the stresses and strains of the pandemic, the district will have to find a “new normal,” he said.

Student equity in the face of the district’s tops Staples’ priority list. It’s also important for the district to recover from the learning setbacks stemming from the pandemic and to manage the growing student enrollment.

Demographics shouldn’t be a barrier to learning opportunities, Staples said, noting that the student population of the district was a wide range of academic outcomes across family, income, race and other demographic indicators.

It is the board’s responsibility, Staples believes, to “know down barriers” to give every student a chance to succeed.

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The considerable degree of overlap in the incumbents’ priorities is striking. That reflects their cohesion as a board with a shared sense of mission. Those are the right priorities. We support Jonas, Jackson, Erickson and Staples for another term on the West Fargo School Board.

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