The two school districts that serve Williston have both chosen members to continue meeting like they agreed to last month.
On Monday, Williams County Public School District No. 8 chose Jenny Jorgenson, the board president, and board member Joe Keel to serve on a committee with two members of Williston Public School District No. 1. The District 1 board chose its president, Kimberly Semenko, and vice president, Sara Kasmer, to serve on the committee.
The boards held a joint meeting in March to discuss collaboration and the boundaries between the districts, among other topics. District 8 board members were resistant to the idea of combining the two districts or re-drawing district boundaries to match Williston city limits. They did, however, agree to continue meeting with the District 1 board.
The boundaries of District 1 used to match up with Williston city limits, but after the city annexed surrounding land several years ago, the boundaries changed. That has led to confusion for some who live in the city but whose children are supposed to attend school in District 8.
When the question of re-drawing boundaries came up, District 8 superintendent Rob Turner said if that happened, his district would lose so much of its tax base that it wouldn’t be able to pay for the $22 million school it’s building. That school is being paid for out of the district’s building fund.
A meeting date has not been set, but Jodi Johnson, the schools superintendent for Williams County will moderate the meetings between the two members from each board.
On Monday, one member of the District 1 board expressed concern about the choice of Semenko to serve on the committee.
Board member Brion Norby nominated Semenko and Kasmer to be the district’s representatives. Board member Heather Wheeler questioned that.
“Are you stepping down?” Wheeler asked Semenko.
The seats held by Robert Krom, Norby and Semenko are up for election in June. None of the three are running for another term.
“I am, but I have a few months left,” Semenko said.
She added that she thought it would work to the district’s advantage to have the board president be at the meetings.
“I disagree,” Wheeler said.
Norby agreed with Semenko, and said he was sure that Jorgenson, the president of District 8’s board, would be chosen to attend the meetings.
“That’s the reason I made the motion the way I made it,” he said.
Krom, who attended the meeting via phone, also backed that.
“I think it’s imperative we have our board president on that committee,” he said. “I think Sara and Kim are both the most qualified people to serve on that committee.”
Wheeler said she thought Kasmer should be on the committee, but didn’t think it made sense to have someone serve for a short period of time. Semenko’s term expires in June.
The board voted 4-1 to have Semenko and Kasmer serve on the committee, with Wheeler voting no.