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.
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.
Merry Christmas & a huge THANK YOU to our elves!
Thank you – Jewel, Dennis, Dan & Steve
The Ellendale School Board on Tuesday took action on a proposal to add women’s fast pitch softball. The Board had been approached about adding the sport in late summer, so it creating an ad-hoc committee to research the program. During, the past few months the committee & Mr. Matt Herman A.D. looked at the requirements of the program, start up costs, gathered interest of students, and interest in coops with other schools. During this same time the Board has been working on budget cutting options due to declining enrollment, as shared in a previous post. It was these budget cutting needs that eventually drove the committee to decide on Tuesday to not approve fast-pitch for the upcoming year. The ad-hoc committee, chaired by Mrs. Kinzler, indicated the committee did not feel they could responsibly add a program while having to cut other programs in the district. They did indicated that it could be an option in the future but it would not be recommended at this time.
With the kick off of the session this past Wednesday we saw the release of the Governor’s budget for the next two years. His 2017-2019 Executive State Budget can be found on the OMB web site at https://www.nd.gov/omb The news has been bleak for state agencies for over the past year and this budget continues to paint a similar picture. Little to no new funding will be coming to Ellendale Public School to reduce the financial pressures that I have shared previously. Here are some specifics:
When you look at the gains ($39,654) and then subtract the reductions ($33,798 + $5,989 = $39,787) that is about as a close to a net zero wash as you can get. The Governor’s Executive Budget request could be changed by the Legislature during the session, however I am not holding my breath. If I had to bet I would expect more cuts being made to this budget by the assembly. We are not going to see many positive changes in my view.
The nearly $300,000 Ellendale needs to cut in our own budget, due to declining enrollment this yea,r is not going to get a reprieve from Bismarck. Getting our budget to balance will take continued tough decisions, many of them cutting programs and resources we have become accustom to having. There will be no easy decisions and as I have said before the Board and Administration are considering all options – GREAT and small!
The recent victory for President-Elect Donald Trump was in large part due to the support from rural America. Many news organizations have realized that the frustrations of the middle and working class in America have risen to a level to repulse the desires of our growing urban centers. The win for the Trump campaign has lead many, I included, to optimistically hope that President-Elect Trump and the GOP will focus like a laser on issues related to the middle class. This is not the time to further lift up the rich, but you need to provide a hand to the poor and working families. But, how will the new administration support rural schools? That is the new question we as educators are asking.
My comments today are focused on what I hope the Trump presidency could do for education in rural America. I am not focusing on urban, urban poor, or suburban. My thoughts are directed specifically at us out here in the middle lands of America. Those of us that live in rural America. President Trump here is what we need you to do for us, those that elected you.
President-Elect Trump I hope you are listening. Your election as our President was in no small way, achieved due to the hopes of rural America. We do believe you can make America great again. Just, don’t forget the young people in our schools.
If you are a fan of ESPN and their NFL broadcast you will know about their C’mon Man segments. This is where they point out funny and not so funny mistakes by players, fans, and officials. Here is one of their previous segments.
So I thought I would share some of my Cmon Man moments from school.
Have a great week!
With every hill there is a valley they say and that is also true in school. It can be success of the basketball team or changes in student enrollment. It could be the hills and valleys our cross country team dashes over. It can also be school funding. Right now we are looking at a deep valley in relation to school funding before us and it will affect your school.
Funding for your school is derived in two ways, state funding and local funding. State funding is derived from a formula highly dependent upon the number of student attending a school. In North Dakota each full time student (here 175 days) is worth about $9,646.00. When enrollment increases state funding increases, when enrollment declines funding declines. Each of these being felt the year after the enrollment adjustment as funding is always one year behind. In Ellendale this year we receive $4,045,243.00 based on 354.5 kids last year. The second type of funding is from taxation and that is derived from the levy assessed by the school board. This year we anticipate that taxation to generate $1,605,350.00 in total funding, with $1,234,600 of that amount supporting the general operating budget.
As I mentioned earlier we are looking at a significant valley in school funding looming next year. This valley is due in part to declining enrollment and a freeze/cut in state funding. The declining enrollment for the district equals about 34 kids less this fall than we had last spring. With each child worth approximately $9,646, as indicated above, this equates to a funding reduction of about $300,000 next year. Then add on the pressures, of declining oil prices, and we are being told to prepare for another reduction of about 5% or $200,000 in state funding on top of the reductions I have already shared.
To meet this revenue shortfall, the district is already working on developing a comprehensive list of services and programs that could be cut. The list thus far includes programs at every grade level, within athletics, transportation, academics, administration, vocational education, technology, and the list is growing. In my view there are no safe programs. We need to take a hard look at everything and validate if we should continue to fund it or not. But, let’s be perfectly clear cuts of this size do not go by unnoticed. Cuts of this nature will include programs and services that families are used to and it will affect our school.
Administrators, teachers, staff, and the school board have been discussing this funding valley and cost cutting for about a month. This blog post is the first of many ways we want to bring the general public into this discussion. The school board is planning to provide a time for public comment and discussion about the funding shortfall at the November school board meeting. If these issues concern you, please be watching for more information on the time and date of that meeting so you can become part of the discussion.
Many of us have memories of Homecoming celebrations at the schools we attended, be that high school or college. Homecoming has a long tradition within the United States and in other countries around the world as the week alumni are invited back to cheer on their old school. The first homecoming game is believed to have been played in 1911 between Kansas and Missouri. This first
game included a pep rally and parade to add to the celebration.
For those of us that remember fondly our Homecoming celebrations they have a special place in our memories and hearts. Be it the coronation with all its pomp and circumstance, or spending several evenings fine tuning the decorations on our class float. Each of these events had special meaning and helped to bond us and our fellow classmates. In my hometown we held a large parade each year with class floats, business floats, fire trucks, bands, the whole 9 yards you might say. I personally kind of miss that. It was the beginning of the culminating day of the the BIG football game which I guess homecoming was all about. But, things are different now…
I had a senior ask me about homecoming and class pranks a couple weeks ago. I think she was feeling me out to see what they could do, without getting suspended. I informed her putting a car on the roof was OUT OF BOUNDS! I also shared with her some of the activities “we” did back in the “old days” (1987) that they might want to think about today. I shared my memory of white washing our town one homecoming night each year. I guess today someone may get arrested for breaking curfew of something but I don’t recall us ever causing much damage. We painted slogans and cheers on the streets and windows all over main street. We also would give the rocks on the hill a fresh coat of paint so our “87” could stand out bold and proud the next morning. My second random memory was not about coronation or the game but about FCCLA and FFA. One early morning during homecoming week the FCCLA officers would kidnap the 9-12 football players and make them breakfast. We were supposed to not know when this was going to happen but we all knew. I mean really, when your mom would ask before bed “did you find your pajamas in the laundry room” you kind of knew it was coming. So they would come to our home about 5:30, wake our entire homes up, and drag each of us (in our PJ’s) to the school for a wonderful breakfast. It was dorky, but it also made them part of homecoming week tradition. I really wonder if they still do that at WSHS?
Despite the changes from the GOOD OLD DAYS I want to ensure everyone that Homecoming is still important to the kids today in our school. They prepare for it, plan activities, and dress up goofy each day. EHS – Edgeley HS & Kulm HS now join up for one shared Homecoming Dance the night after the game. Our kids are so interconnected now, not only by the coop, but by technology that they really do enjoy the combined dance. Coronation is still an important event and as a
student making it on the court is an honor. As a past King (Marshall actually) at NSU I still have a soft spot for coronation. The kids and team still hold a Pep Rally on Friday. All the kids K-12 join in on the cheers and it is always great to see the big seniors helping the new kindergartners learn their class number (I won’t lie it is still awkward to hear 29-29-20-20-29). Despite the changes Homecoming is still a big deal.
Homecoming Week 2016 begins for EHS on Monday, Sept 26th. As the Superintendent I do “officially” invite back all EHS alumni to join us and celebrate this wonderful event. The game this year is not in Ellendale but the THUNDER will be hosting Northern Cass on Friday night in Edgeley. I hope to see you there.
Go THUNDER – Go CARDINALS – Go EHS!
As the election season nears I have been asked to provide some factual information about Measure 2 and how any changes would affect our school. Measure 2 would change elements of the Foundation Aid Stabilization fund which was approved by voters and put into the North Dakota Constitution in 1994.
At this time 20% of all oil extraction taxes are deposited equally into the Common Schools Trust Fund and the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund. This past year that equated to about $150 million deposited into each of these funds.
Unlike the funds that go into the Common Schools Trust Fund the Governor can use funds from the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund when reductions in state aid to schools would occur due to executive action,
pursuant to law. If you recall this past year the Governor has directed two such cuts of 4.05% in January after an initial round of 5% earlier in the biennium. This pulled approximately $120 million from this fund to cover the shortfall.
So why the vote? Right now the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund has approximately $600 million dollars in it and growing. Despite being drawn from this year the fund continues to grow and in a climate where little to no new dollars are coming into the state’s treasury this untapped resource is being considered to maintain the present level of school funding. In contract to probably another round of cuts in the upcoming legislative session.
The resolution would, if approved:
My position is not to tell you which way to vote. My duty is to inform you. But, here is the rest of the story. If Measure 2 would fail it is a strong likelihood that education funding would be cut 5-10% just as most state agencies are facing. A ten percent reduction in state funding would equate to a reduction of about $296,000 for the Ellendale School District. This on top of an approximate $250,000 reduction we are forecasting for 2017-2018 due to declining enrollment. It is real simple, if the revenue is not there then program, jobs, and services are cut, or taxation is raised to fill the void. The truth is we would probably see both in an attempt to balance a nearly half-million dollar revenue shortfall.
If you have questions on how to vote I would advise you to contact one of your school board members:
Mrs. Cay Durheim – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Scott Wertz – email@example.com
Mrs. Charlene Kinzler – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Kent Schimke – email@example.com
Mrs. Michele Thorpe – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellendale School teachers and staff have been participating in specialized training this year focusing on helping students who have experienced trauma. You may initially say “Trauma, what trauma.. was the ambulance at the school yesterday?” Studies are showing that nearly every school aged child has been exposed to overwhelming experiences during their childhood. Helping kids cope with these experiences is the focus of the training we have been participating in.
Nearly every student in today’s school has been exposed to trauma. This could be witnessing violence between their caretakers, direct abuse, a caretaker who may be dealing with substance abuse or has a mental illness, or even a family with a family member incarcerated. Just reflect upon the news you see each day in our state, Fargo, and even our small towns. Would you disagree that the amount of stories that include items like this are on the rise? The stories are real, their affect on children is real, and we have similar stories with kids in our very own community.
Children that have been exposed to trauma may experience challenges in their daily lives and at school. Experiencing traumatic experiences can diminish a students concentration, memory, and language abilities. Sometimes students may act out in the classroom or have difficulty making and keeping relationships with other students or adults. Each of these are a concern when trying to teach a child.
The training our professional educators are receiving will help us better serve this population of students. Thus, ensuring we can help them cope with their experiences and develop into successful students and young people. The intensive six hour training, spaced over two days is being provided by the Southeast Education Cooperative (SEEC). The teachers and staff took part in the initial 4 hours of training before school started. A followup action oriented training will be taking place during our first late start morning on Thursday, Sept 15th.
After our training Ellendale School will be prepared to exhibit these core characteristics:
Lastly, we want to include the community in an open discussion about the affects of trauma on students. I am sure we all can think of a child who has been affected by trauma. What can we, the community, neighbors, school, or you, do to help these students? Each of them has unique needs that need to be addressed for them to succeed. When students are coping with addiction, abuse, neglect, or even an unexpected event like a death or injury to a loved one they need our help. We need to be recognize their needs and assist the child and family to ensure they can be successful in life. We, the faculty and staff of Ellendale Public School, believe training on how to address these student needs is important and will strive to help our kids in any way we can.
Over the weekend I ran into several parents that wanted to share their “Back to School” stories with me. They were precious stories of kids excited about school, nervous new parents, and hopeful aspirations. For those that shared, thank you. But, during these encounters I thought it was probably more important to say THANK YOU to you. So,….
Thank you parents for entrusting your most prized possession in the world with us, Ellendale School. On behalf of the bus drivers, cooks, aides, teachers, administrators, office staff, everyone one of us, please know this is not a task we take lightly. We appreciate your trust to let us help raise and nurture your child. I want to reassure everyone that we spend every day working to bring forth the very best your child can provide. Be it their academic excellence, their artistic abilities, or athletic prowess we wish to see the very best from each and every child . We want to see your child, every child, flourish and grow into the very best they can be. Thank you for giving us the opportunity this year to again work with your child. Thank you for trusting us. It means more than you will ever know.