Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 17-05-2017

1960powellIn 1987, when I graduated from high school, I recall a few unwritten rules in the classroom.  One of these was I knew my teachers cared about me and how I progressed in school.  The second was they were never going to hunt me down or go beyond the lecture to ensure I was learning.  It was on me.  My teachers had the viewpoint that if you don’t do the work, you will fail, and so be it!  But, it was a different time.

During that time student apathy to learning existed but there were also other pressures in place (grandma, mom, dad, siblings) to keep a wayward student in check.  At that time advancement to college was not viewed as much as a right but a privilege that many aspired to.  Lets be honest though many of our classmates did not go to college, some joined the military, some went directly into work, and others dropped out entirely.  In that time dropping out of school was much more common than today and probably had less economic impact on the student than it does now.  The world has changed.

Student apathy still exists.  Despite changes in instructional practices, technology, individualized learning, online learning, STEM and others advancements, educators still struggle with students that have not yet found the pathway of learning.  Many of us have watched for years at what we feel are an increasing number of student with struggles that prevent them from be ready or willing to learn.  Today that is not always a lack of desire to learn (apathy).   It could be hunger, drug abuse (child or parent), mental illness, or a lack of a positive pressure to succeed, or maybe something entirely different.   What cannot be the same as it was in 1987, is our actions toward it.  No longer can we simply write a student off and let them effortlessly fail or drop out.

image-20160331-28462-qliwnlThe past couple years educators at Ellendale Public School have been working on how to address these issues.  This past year the high school implemented the ICU program.  Similar to ICU in a hospital it was designed to strategically ensure that teachers recognized, identified, and addressed student academic needs.  ICU, or We See You, simply assures we are not going to watch you fail without our intervention.  The 1987 model of I teach, and you get it or not, is out!  ICU encompasses many actions but one of the paramount elements is that “Every Student Passes Every Summative Assessment”.   New learning is built upon previous learning.  When a student fails to fully understand previous concept they have a lesser chance of adding new knowledge successfully.  The ICU model asks that teachers take the time and resources to reteach students, reassess, and if needed continue this until students show understanding of the concepts.   Often students suffering from the roadblocks shared before are not the first to come and ask for help or even want help.  This results in another element of ICU being deployed and that is time before, during, and after school being used aggressively to remediate and relearn.  We no longer accept that you can only learn during the set class period.  If a student needs more time, we will give it and often demand it.  This can be uncomfortable for the student.  Sometimes they would rather just dismiss the work and move on as just ignoring something is often easier.

Here is specifically what I see that is different than good ‘ole 1987.  With ICU in place all teachers are communicating about each student who has academic needs and working together to address them.  As I walk down the hall now it is not uncommon to see teacher A talking to a student about needs in teacher B’s class and directing them to use their ICU time with that teacher.  I now see teachers and students here as early as 7:45am and as late as 4:30pm working on relearning vital concepts.  The high school as recently implemented an ICU database to share information and communicate directly with parents so they know how their child is progressing.  This ICU database automatically emails and texts parents providing almost instant communication.  I hear students commenting about ICU and how they need to get some work completed.  In one instance a student stopped in my office and told me he now knows that his teachers care about how he is doing, and want to see him succeed.

In addition to ICU at the high school Ellendale Public School has taken action with similar intentions in other areas.  These are MTSS in your elementary and a program called CREAM for our students focusing on college.  I will share more about both of these in upcoming blog posts.


Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 24-04-2017

img_2677Over the course of my nearly 21 years in Ellendale School I have had the fortune of getting to know and care for many kids.  Each has had their own story and have changed my life in some small way.

I would like to put a spotlight on this wonderful group that many of you may not know.  They are similar to all the other kids in our school in that they are joyful, caring, funny, determined, and hardworking.  They participate in sports and come to school eager to learn.  But, they are different in some unique ways and I think you should know their story.

I want to introduce to you Jude, Zach, and Luke (back row) and Lydia Taylor.  They are the adopted son’s and daughter of the Taylor family and they are all born in China.  Luke & Jude have attended classes in Ellendale School for about two years, while Zach and Lydia started the past fall.  They are all young people that inspire me.

This wonderful band joins Mrs. Fastnacht, EPS English Language teacher, each morning.  They come in almost without exception with the same smiles as you see here.  Because they are in my wife’s classroom,  like many other of her past classes, I get the opportunity to build a special relationship with them.  I remember when they first arrived.  Imagine it, they are 10-14 years old, moved to a new country with a new language, cultural changes abound around you, and now school too.  The spoken language, written language, everything is new.  This is what these kids faced and they are a shining example of success.  I recall attempting to communicate with Zach and Lydia this fall and it was apparent much of what we were each was saying was being “lost in translation”.  But over this year, starting with basic picture cards, then phrases, phonics and hard work with Mrs. F each morning they have excelled.  Today, Monday, April 24th, I must admit I was in tears as I had the opportunity to listen to Zack and Lydia read. Read English!  It was a simple story “Ann hit the ball”, and sentences like that, but they read it with pride and joy.  I really struggle to find the right words to share my joy for their accomplishments.  But, it was amazing and a blessing.

As educators we see kids make new accomplishments each and every day.  Now and then something a kid does just hits you, hits you straight in the heart.  That was today.  As I think about the challenges these four have overcome to now be these gleaming success stories touched me and I think it will touch you.  Luke & Jude are good readers and they work hard in social studies and math in the high school.  Their studies are not easy and with some great help from teachers they are excelling.  Luke & Jude also participate in sports (basketball, wrestling, and track).  Zack and Lydia are new to our country, community, and school and maybe that is why today’s experienced touched me so much.  To look back in the not so recent history and know they were just struggling to communicate verbally with us…. to now sharing stories, laughing, and READING!

Leaving the room this morning I was cheering on each of the kids for the accomplishments they have made and I commented to Mrs. F how impressed I was to have four kids in the school that know two languages, like this group.  They are so hard working and have overcome many obstacles with the help and guidance of their family, friends, and teachers.  In the past some, even myself, were concerned about what it would cost to educate EL students like these.  How could we provide the needed services they would need to allow them to succeed.  Where would the teachers, programs, and money come from.  I regret those thoughts and comments now.  Because, now I cannot image a school without them.  They are a blessing to so many in so many ways.  I would hope that more get to know them as their story should be an inspiration of what hard work and determination can do.  If you have not met them, reach out and say “Good Morning”.  They may even teach you how to say it in Mandarin “Zǎoshang hǎo” like they did to this old teacher.



Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 13-04-2017

budget_bucketofmoneyCutting expenditures, particularly when that means the loss of teaching positions, staff, or programs, is always difficult.  These types of cuts affect employees in many ways. Just wondering how working in a school with less sections, or options will affect teachers.   Around here it is apparent they are grieving and trying to adjust to what is a new normal at Ellendale Public School.

These types of cuts also affect kids, and parents.  It is a small town and people are rightfully concerned for their school and the programs.  I shared previously how appreciative I was of the few parents that stopped to talk about the budget reductions.  It is important for me to have those conversations and to hear your concerns.  I also know that your Board members feel the same way as they have shared similar thoughts with me.

Now we are in recovery mode, but the wounds are still very fresh and it will take time to heal and feel “better”.  Nobody wants to appear to take these loses lightly or appear to benefit from the loss of another.  These are right and justified thoughts.  At the Board meeting on Monday several times members shared concerns about perceptions of their actions in the aftermath of these budget cuts.  Specifically, it is hard to approve updating a set of old text books, or purchase a new bus, or make improvements to facilities while balancing the unknown perceptions community members will have.  They struggled with several of these decisions Monday night and I want to express to everyone they did not take them lightly.   They were painful decisions to make.

The title of this blog post is “Different Buckets” because I want to share with you something many don’t realize in regard to school finance.  In no way do I want my statements here to take away from the feelings many are sharing and going through.  I just want to clarify and my thoughts are stemming from a comment from one of our students I recently received.

A student caught me the other day as I was leaving my office and stated, “How can we purchase five new desks in the FCS room when we are cutting teachers?”  Wow, first that is an impressive question from a student and I appreciated him asking.  My response was that the funds to purchase the new desks came from a grant from the state Career and Tech Ed Department.  The grant was received in response to a CTE audit conducted in the fall that noted new desks in that room would afford our students better flexibility with the wide range of projects they are asked to complete.  The new desks and grant are not really my point, but the perception of buying something new, while cutting teachers or programs is.   Most patrons, including this student, do not know specifically where the funds these come.  So, they assume it is just one large bucket of funds causing him concern, which I understand.  This was not the case.  In this desk example, it was one time grant funds.

In addition to grant funds we also have other buckets of funds within the school system.  These other buckets include sinking & interest funds, building funds, and general funds.  All have different funding sources, purposes, limitations, and obligations.  Sinking & Interest funds are collected from taxation and used to pay off the bonds the school owes.  Funds in this account cannot be transferred to help with program cuts at this time, as we still owe on our outstanding bonds.  The next bucket are General Fund dollars, also gained from taxation and more importantly the state student payment.  This is the main bucket of funds for the district and the fund that has taken the most significant cuts due in part to declining enrollment.  It is the fund that teachers and staff are paid from.  This fund also buys buses, books, fuel oil, supplies, and much more.  General fund dollars can be transferred to the building fund if a school board desires, but not the other way around.  The last bucket is the Building Fund.  This fund receives its revenue from taxation and is used for building repairs and construction.  This is where it gets sticky, and the buckets matter.

The Board took action on several summer projects at the meeting on Monday.  The facilities & transportation sub committee had reviewed a projects list, prioritized it and recommended several projects to the full Board.  The work within these projects they knew never ends as we must continue to maintain and update facilities.  Just like our homes the “honey do” projects never seem to end.  However, they fretted considerable about their actions, because of the perception the public may have.  They fretted about the exact same question that my student posed.  Despite knowing that the projects they would approve would be paid from a completely separate bucket that could not be used for academic programs.  I say this because they talked about the perception and the belief that many would not understand the restrictions on each of the fiscal buckets.

The Board on Monday approved several summer projects including:
Replacement of a fuel oil hot water heater ($40,000) – It leaks and has to be replaced;
Replace one basket mount in the old gym ($6000) – the old wobbly on the north side of the old gym has nearly hurt a custodian so we thought best to replace it before it did;
Demo the Redmond property ($5,000) – this property was gifted to the district so it was felt the need to remove any hazards there was a high priority; and
Install a fence around the high jump area at the track ($3,400) – we still have some driving over the new track and we need to protect that investment.
Each time the Board weighed these projects, and others not yet approved, they struggled with “perception”.  Perception by you, our patrons, to spending monies on these project while cutting programs.  I can assure you they do not take these decisions lightly.  I can also tell you that the funds they are cutting in one action and spending in another are in different BUCKETS.

I thought you would just like to know.


locksmith-brick-mortar-560x315Recently in the FORUM I found two separate editorials that depicted differing views on education that I feel are worth shedding some light upon.  What is education, a singular process of gaining knowledge or is it more than that?  Is education an experience?

The first was from a March 31st FORUM editorial entitled “Letter: Maple Valley gymnasium project would be ‘boondoggle’“.    It is obvious in the editorial that they are frustrated with the high per pupil cost at the Maple Valley School and their desires to complete a gym construction project.  However, what I gleaned from the editorial was from this statement:

“Internet technology is ravaging the days of bricks and mortar at warp speed. The big box stores are closing while massive numbers of college students are earning their degrees having never stepped on a campus. In fact, right here in the Maple Valley School District, students have been able to electronically earn dual credits from Mayville State University while more and more families are homeschooling with the enhancement of the internet. The writing is on the wall. Who will read it?”  by 

Who will read it?  I read this to mean they believe our local public schools are blind to the future they see coming.  A future where students are free to take their learning exclusively from the internet, ditching the brick and mortar schools of the past.  A future where kids and families can freely direct their interests and learning down their path.  A path with little time for distractions, divergent thinking, opposition of philosophy, or more importantly experiences.

Is that really what we want for our kids?

Today I found the second editorial by Mike Jacobs also in the FORUM entitled “Mike Jacobs: Campus life provides experience, not just knowledge“.   What I found interesting in his editorial is that education is not just “knowledge transfer” it is also about the experiences that teach our young people about leadership, the arts, and how to assess knowledge.  The educational experience needs to include interactions with those of a similar viewpoint but also differing viewpoints.   The process of refining our knowledge and beliefs cannot be done in isolation.  Being challenged by others during our learning makes us defend our ideas, improve them, and even broaden our view of the world.  Young people both in our K-12 system and in our colleges and universities, gain from participation in band, participating in a sport, being a member of a student group, and also from being a daily member of the societies these intuitions provide in their hallways.  Learning can take place exclusively online in seclusion.  But, is that the best means of providing for the future leaning and socialization of our young people?

Public schools are not and should not be a monopoly on education.   Modern high schools can do more, we need to broaden our course offerings and learning pathways, much of which can in fact be done with technology.  We need to endeavor to personalize learning for our students meeting them where they are at in their learning process.  But, we must also not forget that public education is about experiences that a child cannot get in front of a computer screen or in isolation  or in like minded groups.  These experiences students receive at a brick and mortar school or on a campus bind them together, enlightening their educational experience.

In my view, this notion that we can all move to an exclusive, secluded, online education is the first step in the demise of our democracy.


Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 23-03-2017

downloadAs the school board and administration continue to grapple with the implications of declining enrollment and no new monies from the state or federal level, we continue to refine the needed cuts to ensure fiscal soundness of the district.  At the last meeting of the school board several cuts were finalized and a new high school schedule was approved.  Before I explain I do want to thank all the school staff and teachers that have provided guidance and support during these tough fiscal times.  I also want to thank the administrative team and school board on their work to actually make the hard decisions.  Lastly, to all the parents and community members that have stopped us or attended board meetings to listen, share, and be part of the process.

At this time the projected expenditure budget is showing a reduction of about $353,000 or -7.6%.  This is very tentative as many items have yet to be finalized for next year including contract costs for purchased services, salaries for all employees, summer work projects, and other items.  However, at this time the board has taken action on the following reductions which are reflected in this budget:

  • Elimination of the Health Careers course.
  • Reduction of Library e-book subscription.
  • Reduction in instructional technology equipment purchases.
  • Delaying of bus purchase.
  • Significant reduction in capital improvements budget in general fund.
  • A couple early retirement payments are no longer being paid out to retired teachers.
  • Reduction of 2 teaching positions in the high school.   Will not rehire to fill the spots created by the retirement of Mr. Ulmer or spot left with resignation of Mr. Sykora.

In addition to these major items a few areas of supplies or fees have been reduced but they are not directly impacting a full program or service as you see in the list above.  I do believe this is a healthy reduction and I have been sharing my view that I do believe this is sufficient for the district, but the final decision is the school boards.



Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 10-03-2017

dakotabowl2016_trophyhoist735 668Starting this year many hoped for another good year.  A year of successes, some snow days, great learning, and an occasional setback to challenge us.  Never, never in my mind would I have predicted the path we have ventured down this year.   The year started more depressing and difficult than most as we began a long journey of grappling with a declining enrollment and zero state funding.   Reducing budgets, cutting positions, and the like are never fun and it kind of brings everyone down.  But, then….

Then we begin a string of WOW moments:

  • Chloe T – finishes 16th in the State XC Meet.  WOW!
  • The Thunder FB team, who we hoped would just make it to the playoffs, runs all the way to the goal of a 11A Football Championship.  WOW!
  • We then take two EHS students to the State Wr Championship with Josh F taking 3rd in 285# and Clayton G finishing as champion at 195# WOW!
  • We are honored to be celebrating the State Championship EHS earned in 1967. WOW!
  • Now we get to add in our 2017 Reg 3 Champions who are DOME Bound. WOW!

Times do get tough and it takes people with a Champions heart to persevere.  I know I am surrounded by Champions here every day.  The adults that work with our kids are amazing and they do it during good times and bad with a smile on their face.  But, this year they are surrounded by another set of CHAMPIONS our kids.  Now, athletic accomplishment are not the only thing that matters.  But, I will tell you it is amazing how championships like these can put a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and a tear in your eye.

I am so proud of our students and fans.  Congratulations on all your accomplishments.  Ellendale relish in the glory of the Champions from 1967 on Friday night of the Class B Tournament this coming week.  Delight in the Parade of Champions on Saturday night as our football team takes center stage.  Rejoice and raise your hands and voices to cheer on our basketball team!  Wow, life is good! #50YrsandNow

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 21-02-2017

democrats-republicans-education**This post is directed to my party, the Republican Party, and our legislators both in Bismarck and D.C.

Dear Legislators:

Do you support rural America?  Would the idea that you promote policies and programs that support rural America be a cornerstone of your campaign?  I am going to make the assumption that your answer is yes, since we do live in a highly rural state.  So what have you done to strengthen our rural areas?  Have you promoted investments and policies to:

  • Provide affordable housing
  • Enhance rural health care
  • Support agriculture and all that support feeding the world
  • Improve rural utilities including water, power, and sewer
  • Provide incentives for businesses that develop and grow in rural areas
  • Strengthen the corner stones of rural communities (health care, civic organizations/faith, schools)….. Oh wait!

98% of parents in our state report they are pleased with their local school their children attend.  School pride in both academics and athletics fill rural community centers each and every week.  I would presume many in rural communities would have a positive response toward their school and the pride it brings to their community.  Schools can be the unifying force in many communities.  But, are YOU really trying to support rural communities and keep their schools alive?  Lets take a second to look.

My party, the Republic Party promotes many education reforms.  You be the judge as to how these will affect your small rural schools.

  • Reforming Higher Education – We believe in expanding community colleges, technical institutions, and online schools.  We believe in reducing the debt load kids are incurring right now.  We believe higher education needs to be more in tune to the needs of the job market.  And finally, they indicate that the failures of higher ed are due to the failures of K-12.
  • Accountability – My party believes in merit pay, developing character and financial literacy skills, rigorous student assessment to demonstrate student success, STEM, and they believe reforms are best left up to the states.
  • Home Schooling & School Choice – My party believes parents need ultimate control over their child’s education.  They support removing all restrictions on home education.  They believe in development of charter schools and online academies.  Republicans promote vouchers allowing portability of state dollars, and they believe in prayer in school.
  • Students Success Act – This act, supported by Republicans, revamped NCLB and gave control of education back to the states.  It required accountability and removed the Common Core Curriculum from federal requirements.

So which of these are supporting your community and its school?

  • Reforming Higher Education – I don’t see anything here that hurts rural America and if we can find ways to reduce students debt as our kids attend higher ed that is a positive.
  • Accountability – Merit pay, bonuses and the like are most commonly based on student assessment performance.  Is this really the focus of what we want for our kids to be test prepped?  My party will say out of one side of their mouth they want no tests or test opt out for parents, but then on the other side still retain legislation requiring tests in three subject every year from 3-8 and once in high school.  My party needs to take a step back and allow states and schools to provide a more well rounded report of school/student progress to our communities.  My dear legislators, we are not factories… kids are not widgets.. and sometimes they need more than just a test to show success.  This is not purely a rural issue but when you want to use a single measure to give one teacher (since we don’t have many) a bonus, that does not build a sense of unity and joint accountability.
  • Home Schooling and School Choice – Over the past decade my party has put forth bill after bill removing the restrictions on home schooling.  I do support the basic option, but I do believe they now allow home education with little to no accountability to anyone.  Is this the best option for the future work force in our rural communities?  In addition, since the ability to support your local schools derives significantly from state foundation aid, each and every child that home educates removes funding from your local school.  This despite the fact that home education families may still take part in special education services, transportation, academic courses of their choosing, and activities & athletics.    Then add in the concept of vouchers and I struggle to understand how the Republicans are supporting small rural communities.  This program would possibly draw students away from their community school, reducing funding more, and even allow home education families to receive a state payment.
  • Student Success Act – This is a positive for all public education in our country.  The intent to provide more state level control versus federal is a breath of fresh air after over a decade with NCLB.  However, the federal delegation appears to not be able to keep their hands off the wheel, pulling it back from the states already.  The promises of less federal regulation are eroded when I look at H.R. 610.  This is a bill in the US House putting vouches and private school requirements on states in order to get federal dollars.  Isn’t this the same thing we just argued against when Democrats were in control?

I could go on… reducing transportation funding (not helping), reducing health care services (not helping), and ignoring growing mental health needs (not helping).  My question again to my party is… Are you really supporting rural communities and their schools?


Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 14-02-2017

The Ellendale School Board finalized a few of the budget reduction measures it will take next year to address a shortfall in funding.  The school district has been working on addressing the expected $250,000 shortfall since September.  This reduction in funding is due in large part to declining enrollment within the district but is also compounded by limited to reduced state funding projected next year.  Starting in September the Board has been working on a list of possible cuts while weighing the benefits and consequences of each cut.  Here is the list of cuts discussed and the status of each at this time.

Proposed Cut Savings Action By Board
Eliminate Health Careers Course $20,482.00 Board approved elimination at Feb meeting.
Postpone Replacement of Desks & Furniture $16,000.00 Board approved removing this from expenditure budget at Jan meeting
Do not replace any retirees $49,449.00 The board approved no filling any vacancies, at the time, during Jan meeting.
Elementary – Reducing Instructional Faculty  61,550 – 98,200  No action at this time.
Reconfigure to K-8 9-12 Building – Reducing Instructional Faculty in HS $53,474.00 The Board has directed the administration to present a revised schedule and staff reduction recommendation at the March meeting.
Postpone Bus Purchase $87,000.00 The Board removed this from the expenditure budget at the Jan meeting.
Technology Support Reduced Undetermined at this time No action at this time.
Reduce Extended Contract or Eliminate. $16,875.00 This has been withdrawn as an option.
Eliminate SRCTC Counselor & Hire Locally $1,700.00 Board has determined to continue partnership with SRCTC on this program.
Eliminate SRCTC Voc Ed Courses $54,500.00 The Board has reviewed and determined to continue this program at this time.
Oakes VocEd Bus $22,579.00 *same as previous
Eliminate 1 bus route and consider family trans. $22,702.00 Mr. F presented first information about family transportation at the Feb meeting.  The Board has approved 1st reading of a policy allowing the practice.  Still under consideration.
Reduce Athletic Coaching Staff Undetermined The Board has directed the administration to present to the Personnel and Finance Cmty projections if Golf and Cross County were eliminated.  No official Board action at this time.
eBook Reduction $3,500.00 This was reviewed by the Board and a new reduced contract has already been signed for 2017-18
No longer use Viewpoint and transition to SLDS $3,150.00 This program is being evaluated by the administration at this time.

Other items have been discussed but not included on the formal list as they were rejected right away.  However, it should be noted that there are reductions in areas still being considered that are not on this list.  As the expenditure budget for the upcoming year becomes more clear it will surely solidify the actions already taken or cause more considerations to be made.


Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 19-01-2017

12133485-school-funding-reform-800x445I was impressed this week to see an education related article, not deriving from Ellendale School, on the front page of the Dickey County Leader.  The article entitled “North Dakota Legislature Addresses Education” was penned by Mike Jacobs from the ND Newspaper Association and reports on several interviews with key legislative and state leaders on education issue at the legislative assembly.   Thank you Leader for running this article.

After reading the article I thought it appropriate to share some of my thoughts also on these topics as I have been meeting and working with several of these legislative leaders and others to protect funding cuts from affecting small rural schools.  I do believe that without exception legislators believe education is one of their top priorities.  The education budget is a substantial portion of the state budget and definitely draws attention in the hallways of the Capitol.  I become concerned when the article talks about desires “to hold harmless” education and I compare that with budgets and bills that seem to not live up to that promise.

Here is a table of the areas that have been proposed to be cut (showing dollars cut) at some point thus far this session.  I realize bills can change and in some aspects they already have.

Item Appropriations Bill Gov Dalrymple’s Bill
Transportation 0.00 $ 5,700,000
ELL Refugee Resettlement Impact Grants $ 1,000,000 $ 1,000,000
Career & Technical Education $ 1,302,972 $ 2,477,406
Rapid Enrollment Grants $ 12,504,530 $ 12,504,530
Early Childhood Education $ 3,000,000 $ 3,000,000
$ 17,807,502 $ 24,681,936

As you can see the initial education funding bills were not holding education harmless.  For Ellendale the significant impact would have been in the area of transportation where the reduction would have ended up in a 10-12% reduction in state funding.  However, the significant reduction in CTE also affects our school as we receive partial reimbursements for some of our CTE programs we provide in Ellendale and receive at the SRCTC.  Any reduction in funding for CTE is a reduction in reimbursement for us.  Several education leaders and I met with Sen. Schaible last week and some of these cuts have already been reinstated, but we need to keep watching to ensure education is made 100% whole.

Some legislators and others have argued that almost all other areas of the state budget are taking 5-10% cuts, why not education.  My quick response is because of the will of the voters.  Voters approved, last fall, the opening up of the Foundation Aid Stabilization fund which presently has approximately 600 millions dollars in it.  It would seem that to make education whole and still use some special funds to reduce the states obligation to the foundation payment itself are within it’s capacity.  I hope we all watch closely what the legislature does to ensure they fulfill the will of the people.

Now time to dash back to Bismarck!



Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 23-12-2016

During the Christmas season we all know about the role of Santa Clause.  He is the man bringing the presents to all the good little girls and boys.  Behind him are some exceptional characters, the elves.  Without the elves Santa would not be able to have all the gifts to put in those stockings around the world.   At school, the work of education is obviously Santa, it dominates the building.  But, we also have elves and I want to give them some credit.

Each and every day, behind the scenes, our four elves (Dennis, Steve, Dan & Jewel) keep Ellendale School comfortable, clean, and functioning properly.  Some have asked during our budget cutting discussions, why not cut out one custodian.   I believe all areas are open for discussion.  However, I don’t know if everyone appreciates what these four people do.

  • Each and every day our custodial elves clean 65,000+ sq ft. (total school is 87,391 sq ft).  That equates to 16,250 sq ft per custodian, per day.  Most homes are 2,000 to 3,000 sq ft so that is like cleaning your home nearly five times, every day!
  • They clean 13 urinals, 40 toilets, 55 sinks, and 24 showers, every day.
  • They fill countless paper and toilet paper rolls.
  • They scrub the MPR every day along with entrance ways during wet parts of the year.
  • Hallways are swept every day but are also scrubbed and burnished one time a week.
  • Sport floors receive a dry mopping once or twice daily, then a wet towel treatment once a day along with weekly scrubbing.
  • Windows are part of the weekly routine but when is the last time you saw hand prints on an entry door in the morning? You don’t because our elves wash them once a day.
  • Our elves fix door closers, water heaters, desks, leaky faucets, door latches, lights, boilers, and pretty much everything an elf can handle.
  • During winter weather they are responsible to move snow off of nearly a 1/3 of mile of sidewalk, 30+ parking spots, and 17 doorways.

The list could keep going on and on but I think you get the picture.  These elves are MAGIC!  However, don’t forget the little miracles they provide during concerts, sporting events, or community events.  Concerts require them to be experts in engineering and sound system setup.  Sporting events require sound and music systems, clean seats, trash collection, and team logistics all under the scrutiny of thousands of eyes.  Finally, many do not realize how many community events our elves help provide.  These events range from dance, taekwondo, DRN banquets, post-prom parties, meetings, and more.

The next time you have the opportunity to visit another school look around.  Look at the floors, the sinks, gym floors, look up and down.  When I do this, I leave thankful for the efforts of these four exceptional people.  It also reaffirms my view there is no way we can provide the service to this community facility, that it deserves, without them.20150804_095825

Merry Christmas & a huge THANK YOU to our elves!
Thank you – Jewel, Dennis, Dan & Steve