Sep
22
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 22-09-2016

Homecoming Court 2016Many 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…

2011612317I 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 resizetoday.  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 for12010552_798119160333462_8104740989954456114_o 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!

Sep
15
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 15-09-2016

ballot-box-graphicAs 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:

  • Simplify some language that talks about a 50-50 portion of 20% of the oil extraction tax and simply say 10% of the tax will go into the Common Schools Trust Fund and 10% in the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund.  Really no change, just cleaner language.
  • The second change would be to cap the amount of dollars that can be held in the Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund at 15% of what the state of North Dakota spends on education each biennium.  At this time that would be around $300 million.  (Remember, the present fund is now holding about $600 million).  This safety net amount would automatically increase as state funding toward education increased.
    • This measure would then allow the legislature to take any funds in excess of the 15% (about $300 million today) and use the funds within the general fund spending for spending on education.

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 – cay.durheim@ellendale.k12.nd.us
Mr. Scott Wertz – scott.wertz@ellendale.k12.nd.us
Mrs. Charlene Kinzler – charlene.kinzler@ellendale.k12.nd.us
Mr. Kent Schimke – kent.schimke@ellendale.k12.nd.us
Mrs. Michele Thorpe – michele.thorpe@ellendale.k12.nd.us

 

 

Sep
02
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 02-09-2016

truamaEllendale 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:

  1. A shared understanding among our teachers and staff about the adverse experiences some of our students experience.
  2. A plan to ensure all students feel safe physically, socially, emotionally, and academically.
  3. School personnel address student needs holistically, taking into account all aspects of the student.  There is not a one size fits all reaction to student concerns.
  4. The staff and teachers work as a team, to address trauma’s challenges.  Students in need are now not addressed by one single teacher but a team may be involved in providing resources and support.
  5. The school will monitor and adapt to meet the changing needs of our students.  This may include finding resources to address new challenges or looking for community resources to assist our students.

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.