West Fargo Schools Superintendent Beth Slette talks staffing, school vouchers and successes of district this school year

Photo by: West Fargo Public Schools
Photo by: West Fargo Public Schools

(West Fargo, ND) -- As school districts move beyond the halfway point in the current school year, challenges remain when it comes to staffing and filled those open positions.

That is no different in West Fargo, where Superintendent Beth Slette says openings within her district vary from all over the place.

"Bus drivers, para-educators, special education instructors, behavior technicians, speech and language therapists, school psychologists, five school counselor openings at the elementary school level and we even have a need for some classroom teachers," said Slette while talking with WDAY Midday. The needs are consistent with many districts across the Red River Valley, as Slette noted that as of this past weekend there were 59 openings in West Fargo Schools.

But, there is plenty of good happening in the district. Slette notes that while staffing shortages are noticeable, testing scores are continuing to rise since the break in the pandemic. She gives full credit to the educators currently staffed inside WFPS.

"A big win for us is the fact that we have some of the best educators in the state," said Slette, who also noted the focus on behavioral and mental health sets West Fargo Schools apart. This coming after the formation of a specific department and jobs being created to address those concerns, which makes West Fargo the first school district in North Dakota to do so.

Slette was also outspoken on the possibility of two separate bills circulating in the legislative session surrounding school vouchers and discounts for private schools for parents here in North Dakota.

"If there is a basketball game and a private school and public school are both playing in it, we don't have one set of rules for the private school and one for the public school," said Slette. "We all play by the same rules." She says her main concerns sit with the fairness in the equity of the bills, for all students and children to be able to take advantage. Slette also noted that in her opinion parents already have a wealth of options to choose from, be it public or private schools, here in the FM community.

More details on the future of West Fargo Schools are set to come on March 1st, when Slette and the district hold their annual 'State of the Schools' address. You can click here for more information on that event.

Original Air Date: 
Monday, February 6, 2023