WEST FARGO — Longtime West Fargo High School teacher and coach and first-term West Fargo School Board Member Jim Jonas will serve as the next board president.

Jonas was unanimously approved as president by the school board at its first meeting of the 2021-22 school year, Monday, July 12. Jonas served as vice president during the 2020-21 school year under the leadership of longtime board member and multiple-term board President Patti Stedman.

"I appreciate the opportunity to work with a wonderful board," Jonas said. "It's our goal to do the best for our students, whatever gender they are or whatever their socio-economic background. In 1990 when I moved to West Fargo, it's been a long road and never did I think I would be in this position."

In 2018, Jonas was elected to the school board after he led in vote counts ahead of a field of 14 candidates vying for just four open seats on the board. He joined the board after accepting an early retirement package from the district at the end of the 2015-16 school year at Principal Jennifer Fremstad's request due to poor evaluations regarding some of the language he used in the classroom.

Jessica Jackson, who received the second-most votes in the 2018 election, was nominated by board member Dan Schaeffer to serve as vice president.

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"I truly feel as though we're a district of choice. I'm proud to represent this board," Jackson said.

Jackson, a 1997 West Fargo graduate, joked of how she was in school when Jonas was teaching.

"I never thought I would be doing this, either," she said Monday, "so you just never know. This is what we are trying to teach our students."

Board Member Jon Erickson, who nominated Jonas for the position of board president, recognized Stedman for her service.

Superintendent Beth Slette called Stedman's work "amazing."

"I'd like to thank Patti for everything she's done," Erickson said. "What a year we had last year, and we were lucky to have her experience. We couldn't have done it without you."

"Your wisdom and knowledge is as one of the most respected board members in the state," Jonas said to Stedman.

The board officers will serve one year.

The seven-member board is one member short after Kara Gravley-Stack resigned. The board hopes to appoint one of four applicants to complete the final year of Gravley-Stack's term at its next meeting on Monday, July 26.

Other board business

Former Human Resources Director Robin Hill, who has helped consult the West Fargo School District as it negotiated with teachers and staff on two-year salary contracts, proposed an agreement that gives a salary increase to staff of about 2.3% in the first contract year and 2.26% in the second year.

The package will cost the district about $31.8 million, up from the $30.8 million salary contracts in 2020-21. Classified and professional staff package was approved unanimously Monday for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years.

The school board approved a two-year contract package for teachers at its June 28 meeting. The package is expected to be voted on by the union, West Fargo Education Association, in the next two weeks.