Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 15-03-2016

This is never an easy discussion to have, no matter what time or what group I am speaking.  Reducing teaching faculty or staff immediately brings anxious feelings, rightfully so.  However, that does not mean it cannot be addressed.  So over the past several months the EPS Administrative Team (Mr. Herman, Mr. Girard, and I) have been discussing with the School Board the future size of our teaching faculty.

Our discussion focused on several keys points that all indicated that we should be strongly considering a reduction in our faculty.  The key points are:

  • Enrollment growth has steadied or has even declined in classes growing rapidly a couple years ago.
  • North Dakota’s economy is experiencing significant changes due to declining oil prices.
  • These economic challenges are causing cuts in state budgets, which could eventually impact schools.
  • In comparison to surrounding communities, of similar size, we have a significantly lower student:teacher ratio.
  • A slight change in our faculty we feel we can maintain a strong education system while controlling costs.
  • The best time to make a change is when it presents itself to you.

Here is a representation of our present elementary grades showing class sizes and sections for each.  On the top are present numbers for four schools including Ellendale Elementary.  You can see this year EES has a student to teacher ratio of 14.5:1.  This is significantly lower than all our surrounding schools.  Oakes, which is larger by over 100 students is situated between 2 to 3 sections per grade.  While, LaMoure and Edgeley, who are more closely aligned with us have transitioned to only one section per grade.  We have been stuck in the middle of these two configurations for some time and now with two teaching positions opening we feel it is time to only fill one.  This would result in our teaching faculty to look more like what is represented in the bottom row.

** NOTICE ** This is all based on projections.  If for some reason we would lose or gain a significant number in any one grade in our proposed plan.  Then good plans have to change.  Just saying.  **

Ultimately I believe a student to teacher ratio around 16-17 to 1 is still very good.  It is a wonderful perk of living in a small community and not in a Fargo or Bismarck that can commonly have 22-28 kids to 1 teacher.  However, everything has a cost and maintaining a low ratio takes teachers and that takes money.  So last night the Ellendale School Board endorsed our proposal and we finalized it with EES faculty this morning.  It is a challenge but I also know we have quality teachers that can be successful in this new configuration.  So I personally feel we have found a balance between exceptional educational services and fiscal responsibility.  I hope you agree.