Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 23-11-2015

It is my hope that the title of this blog post will be shocking enough to get community members thinking and acting upon this issue.  Because without any action we could be facing the reality of not running buses due to a driver shortage.

During the 2014-2015 school year Ellendale School buses transported approximately 100-130 students daily.  That is nearly 1/3 of our student population.  During that same year our buses traveled a total of 120,509 route miles (688.6 day) and 41,304 extra-curricular miles.  The vast majority of these miles were run by six dedicated, highly-qualified drivers that many of you know.  But, they could not be here every day.  Even bus drivers get sick, take a vacation, or have to drive a team on an extra-curricular trip.  When these events happen we call on our short list of substitute drivers to come in and help us out.  However, that list of substitute drivers is dwindling and it is jeopardizing us providing the quality transportation service that many of us have become accustom.

As an example of how busy we can keep our subs here are some recent stats:
September = 11 sub routes – (drivers names left out) DriverA = 1, Driver2 = 3, Driver3 = 6, and Driver4 = 1.  These are actual drivers.  However of these four – two work for the school in other capacities and were helping where and when they could.
October = 25 sub routes – Driver5 = 3, Driver6 = 3, Driver3 = 15, Driver4 = 2, and Driver2 = 2.  Some of these helped us in September and some only in Oct.  The number of the drivers do correspond month to month.

Now comes the scary part.  In the information above Driver4 will not be driving anymore and Driver6 is obligated as a coach now and cannot drive during our busy winter months.  Secondly, we are just now heading into our busy time.  The fall can be busy but football is only one night a week and fortunately for us we have a coach that can drive the team to Edgeley/Kulm when needed.  This is not the case in the winter.  We are now heading into a season with 2-3 wrestling, boys basketball, and girls basketball events per week.  This is not including elementary and JH sports.  Now our A.D., Mr. Matt Herman, does a fine job ensuring we are only scheduling two away events per night.  But, there are times we can have three buses out at any time of the day to field trips, sporting, or fine arts events.  This causes extreme pressure on our driver pool as you can see.
So what happens if we don’t have enough drivers?  Commonly if we are short a two rural routes are combined into one larger route.  Students still get a ride home, but it just may take longer for them to get to their door step.  But, I know there are some out there that could help.  Even if you are not willing to drive twice a week, even three times a month can be very beneficial for us and ensure that all our buses are running normally.  If you can help, or would like to know more about the requirements to drive a bus, please contact me at or call me at 701-349-3232.  This is a fragile dance we are doing right now and only one extended sickness or departure of one sub could put our bus routes in jeopardy.  The time to act is now and if you again can help, please contact me.
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 03-11-2015

The Dept of Public Instruction has issued a press release stating that the ND State Assessment results are out for ND schools.  If you recall these are the results from the new Smarter Balanced assessment that was conducted in the spring of this year.  This is the test that is more closely aligned with the common core instructional standards and is reported to show proficiency more aligned with the NAEP assessment (which means lower).

I thought you may be interested in these results as well so I am going to try to show them to you in a series of graphics that I have snapped from our testing portal.  The results are show as bars with with Red = Novice, Yellow = Partially Proficient, Green = Proficient, and Blue = Advanced.  Of course we would like to see all students in the green or blue categories.  On each image are both the results for the Math test (shown on the left) and the English Language Arts test (shown on the right).

The first graph shows the results for all students tested in North Dakota.  The state level result.  ** Click on the image to make it larger if you desire **

Next are the results for Ellendale Public School District.  These are all students tested in Ellendale Elementary, MR Elementary, and EHS.  Students tested last year were in grades 3-8 & 11.  Again, Math on the left, and ELA on the right.


Next are the results for each building at Ellendale Public School.


Here are the results for Ellendale Elementary – Grades 3 – 6th.  Again from the spring of 2015.


Here are the results for Ellendale High School.  Grades 7, 8, and 11.

Lastly, are the results for the Maple River Elementary School.  In several of these categories you will see that data was suppressed.  This is due to the small class sizes which can cause statistical and identification concerns for the students taking the test.

If you have made it to the bottom of this page thank you for taking interest in this information.  But, I again want to share my view on this data, and it contradicts what you may be hearing from state officials.  This is a valuable test, if you desire to take a one-time snap shot of student performance and use that to measure school success/failure and compare schools.  However, it is only one single event.  It is not a diagnostic that I use, or promote at EPS, to be used for classroom use.  Any test that does not provide its results till nearly 6 months after the fact has little benefit to a classroom teacher.  We will focus on assessment that we can provide us timely results to modify instruction and adapt our resources to fit the needs of our students and teachers.