Fargo-Moorhead News

3 newcomers, 1 incumbent elected to Fargo school board

School board meeting
The Fargo Board of Education met May 23 at the Fargo Public Schools district office for a work session on the long-range facilities plan.
Chris Flynn | The Forum

Fargo school district voters have chosen three newcomers and reelected one incumbent to serve on the Fargo Public Schools Board of Education.

Voters could choose up to four candidates in the primary election on Tuesday, June 11.

In final but unofficial results, these top four were elected to the Fargo school board: Kristin Nelson with 16 percent, Allie Ollenburger with 14 percent, Jason Nelson with 12.9 percent and incumbent Nikkie Gullickson with 12.3 percent of the vote. Those results come from more than 33,000 votes counted, which may not contain all results returned by mail.

Incumbent Seth Holden did not win reelection, finishing with less than 10 percent of the vote.

Other challengers were Paul Mohror, Ryan Dodd, Dawn Morgan and John Campbell.

Kristin Nelson said she thinks her career in early childhood education and her leadership experience put her at the top.

Portrait of a person
Kristin Nelson was elected to the Fargo school board on Tuesday.
Chris Flynn | The Fargo Forum

She said she hopes to help change the district culture into something more positive, “working with teachers instead of leaving them out of the decisions.”

Ollenburger said she felt confident with the results Tuesday.

In 2021, Ollenburger was part of a failed effort to recall four school board members, mostly over the district’s COVID mask mandate. In 2022, when she ran for Fargo school board, she finished eighth in a field of 15 candidates.

Portrait of a person
Fargo School Board candidate Allie Ollenburger participates in the forum at Fargo City Hall on May 6.
David Samson | The Fargo Forum

She cited the failure as a reason for her success this time around.

“I stood up for who I am and what I stand for. I owned the mistakes I made last time,” Ollenburger said.

Jason Nelson, a former Fargo police lieutenant and now senior director of facilities at Sanford Health, said he thinks key endorsements, including from the Fargo Education Association and the North Dakota Peace Officers Association, helped his cause.

“I look forward to serving the teachers and taxpayers,” he said.

Portrait of a person
Jason Nelson was elected to the Fargo school board on Tuesday.
Courtesy Jason Nelson via the Fargo Forum

Gullickson said while she was sorry that Holden wasn’t reelected, she’s excited to work with new people.

“New ideas are always welcome and encouraged,” Gullickson said.

Portrait of a person
Fargo School Board candidate Nikkie Gullickson participates in the forum at Fargo City Hall on May 6.
David Samson | The Fargo Forum

Board members Jim Johnson and Tracie Newman did not seek reelection.

School board members are elected at large by residents of the Fargo School District and they serve four-year terms.

Kristin Nelson, Ollenburger, Jason Nelson and Gullickson will be seated on the board at the July 9 regular meeting. During that meeting, a president and vice president of the board will be elected.

In August, the board president makes committee and liaison assignments for the ensuing year, which are then approved by the board, according to the Fargo Public Schools website.

The school board supervises only one employee, the superintendent of schools, and its decisions as a group are binding on that person.

Rupak Gandhi has held the position of superintendent at Fargo Public Schools since 2018.

The board’s most recent focus has been an in-depth, long-range facilities plan.

During a regular board meeting Tuesday, members voted unanimously to approve the proposed plan and proceed with a pre-bond referendum study.

Each Fargo school board member is compensated with a stipend of $1,000 per month for their work and time.

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