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Snack time proposal prompts high teacher turnout at West Fargo School Board meeting

WEST FARGO—Two dozen elementary teachers attended the West Fargo School Board meeting on Monday, March 12, after catching wind of a proposal that would designate 10 minutes of the school day for a student snack time but could take away from teacher preparation time.

Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Beth Slette said Monday that staff has considered building in 10 minutes to the elementary school day in order to add a snack time for students.

The West Fargo Education Association requested the item be placed on the agenda, but it was denied.

Since the proposal is not a change to teacher contracts, the school board usually does not vote on such issues and the board was not given background on the proposal, said district spokeswoman Heather Konschak.

West Fargo Educators Association President Kjiesta Moch said that most teachers were not in favor of the additional 10-minute snack time, as it takes away from teacher preparation time and contact with students. She said 161 teachers were polled regarding the schedule change and only four were in favor of it.

Moch said teachers received updated schedules that included the additional 10 minutes. However, Slette said those schedules were meant to be mock schedules, to demonstrate what the school day would look like if the 10-minute break was built in.

Slette said she understands that the snack time could cut into teacher preparation time and will not make any changes to the school day schedule until additional staff is onhand to assist teachers.

"Ten minutes a day is 50 minutes a week for teachers, and that is a lot," Slette said.

School board meetings allow time for the public to speak on issues regarding to the district. However, anyone planning to speak must sign up beforehand and is asked to keep their discussion to three minutes.

During the board's committee of the whole meeting, which occurs just before its regular meeting, Slette alerted the board that teachers would likely be in attendance.

"I think they are just here to have their presence known," she said.

None of the teachers spoke at Monday's meeting. Moch said no one signed up to speak but hoped the board would ask the teachers to speak up.

"Why not hear what we have to say before it is final?" Moch said.

Board members did not address the audience at its Monday meeting.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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