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2 up for reelection to Dickinson School Board

Dickinson Public School Board President Kris Fehr and Leslie Ross are running unopposed for the June 12 election.

Ross, a Crystal, Minn., native and Stark County veteran services officer, has been on the board for eight years.

"I haven't lost my passion and belief that public education is the right of every child," she said. "That is foundation for economic development -- ensuring that our children are on pace with the world's children to receive an education that will prepare them for 21st century skills and prepare them for the world market."

Fehr was elected to the board in 2001. She grew up in Bismarck and is executive director of the Best Friends Mentoring Program and Western Wellness Foundation.

"We want to make sure that we are doing the absolute best job possible for our students in the district," Fehr said. "That's really where my focus is going to be. In every single aspect, in every decision we make, we need to make sure we're doing what's best for the students."

The two have mixed feelings about running unopposed.

"I really kind of think it's tragic," Ross said. "I wish there were more people that would look at public education as a foundation and be excited about having some sort of impact on how we educate our children."

Fehr said the lack of other candidates may mean the public feels members are doing a good job, but added she would welcome competition.

"Usually when things are going well, you don't see a lot of people really unhappy and wanting to be on the school board and make a change," she said.

The board is facing many challenges with an increase in population and with the construction of Prairie Rose Elementary School.

"We're doing strategic planning for a future that we can't really envision," Ross said. "The uncertainty about our enrollment numbers and funding our new school and the staffing issues -- I mean we're opening a new school and we've taken all the money out of school district budget. We haven't gone to the people for that and I think that's pretty phenomenal."

Fehr said the changing demographic of the student population will also be a challenge.

"Plus the fluctuating nature of families moving in and moving out -- transient students -- and how to best serve them and support our teachers through that process," she said. "I'm excited about the challenges that are coming and wanted to provide some continuity for the school district as well."

There will soon be at least one new face on the board, since Rebecca Pitkin has resigned two years into her term to pursue the position of Jefferson Elementary School principal.

"I have had a principal licensure for years," Pitkin said in a voice message. "It was a natural progression."

She is an associate professor of education at Dickinson State University.

"I love my students and many of them will be teaching at Jefferson this year," Pitkin said.

DPS is taking applications for the open seat until May 7, said Twila Petersen, administrative assistant.

"Of course you want people who have the best interest of all students at heart," Pitkin said of applicants.

The school board will likely appoint an applicant at the June meeting, DPS Superintendent Doug Sullivan said.

Those interested in the position should call 701-456-0002.