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!