Sep
19
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 19-09-2017
Social Business Meeting

Social Business Meeting

The first public input meeting was held last night at the EHS Library.  I would like to thank the small crowd that gave up a couple hours of their valuable time to share their insights as to where education in our community should be headed.  I also want to thank those that have sent me letters and emails sharing their thoughts on these same questions.  THANK YOU!

We began the evening with our first question – What are the two or three biggest changes in our society over the past 20 years?  Responses ranged from technology, how we communicate, family changes, pace of learning/relearning, and belief that our kids are under more stresses than we were 20 years ago.   So what do we need to do in our schools to prepare them for these changes.  The insights on this matter were exceptional and followed much of what your teachers echo inside the school.  It is always vital that our kids have the basic skills of reading/math, however in today’s world they need more.  The group ended up adding these words to their list:  Communication,  Collaboration,  Creative Thinking,  Cooperation, Creativity, Citizenship & Work Ethic.  How will these ideas prepare our kids for the future?  How can we as a community and school work to build these skills in our kids?  On these two questions we had great discussion but I would attest that more work needs to be done in this area to refine our thinking and planning.

We discussed the needs of our young people as they enter the work force next.  The above mentioned skills were important but one great comment pointed to basic “common sense”.  The parent/business owner shared how a new hire did not even know how to mop the floor.  Others in the room echoed similar frustrations with young people that lack basic work or labor skills.  Where should these be taught then?  Are these types of skills something that needs to be done at home, at church, in a youth group, or at school?  I would like you to think about that before the second public input meeting as I feel it is a valuable question as it refines the actions of your school.  Where will we invest our valuable time?  There are so many things to learn today.  Can we get all the information and skills into an adolescent mind in 2,275 days.  That is the number of days of school from K to 12.  If we put that into hours (350 min/day) of actual class time it is 795,250 hours not including any absences for any reason, and we know that is not reality.  Let us then propose that we have 750,000 hrs in a K-12 journey, which equates to missing 10 days of classes a year.  What do we spend this precious time teaching?   We can’t teach it all.  What role do others take in our kids learning journey?

The last questions of the night dealt with “Where and when should students learn?”.  It is obvious that our children learn from the moment they are born.  However, kids today have a greater ability to learn than we ever had 20 years ago.  Look at a child today, they have an ipad or smartphone at their disposal almost at birth.  That device is our old encyclopedia only on steroids.  It is not just text which limited us at an early age because we could not read.  But it has pictures, text, simulations, videos, a highly immersive means of engaging the user.  So I ask you, “where and when should students be able to learn during their school aged years”?   Think about that and I will hopefully see you on Monday, October 9th at 5pm for our second public input meeting.

 

 

Sep
12
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 12-09-2017

Each year it is the charge of the Ellendale School Board to provide a venue for patrons to share concerns about taxation and fiscal status of the district.  This year was no exception and that meeting was held last night at the EPS Library.  Aside from school board members, we had no additional attendance.  This low turnout does not take away the need for us to be very open and transparent about the fiscal status of your school.  So here is a condensed version of what I shared last night.

Tax Rates:  These are the requested dollars and projected mills on your property for the 2018 tax season.
General Fund $1,180,000 – 70 mills
Building Fund $50,600 – 3 mills
Miscellaneous $50,080 – 2.97 mills
Interest & Sinking $360,000 – 21.36 (increase of 2.37 mills).

The district’s general fund is by the largest and along with state funding provides for the majority of funding for educational programming.  This fund is expected to be hit by a reduction in state funding of approximately $281,648.00.  This is due in large part on two factors.  These are a declining enrollment during the 2016-17 school year of approximately 30 weighted student units.  Secondly, the state funding formula includes a local contribution (equaling 60 mills) deduct which increased by $37,569.00 this year.  This deduct in 2017 is expected to be near $1,011,279.00.  That deduct grows each year as long as taxable valuations also grow in the district.  A state and local revenue comparison was shared at the meeting and can be viewed here.

captureIn order to address these significant reductions to general fund revenue you will recall last year that the district proposed many cost reduction options to cut expenditures.  At this time the 2017-2018 budget is now $359,402 less than the budget for the previous year.  This reduction equates to a -7.7%.

If you would like to know more about “Where the Money Goes” please go to http://www.ellendale.k12.nd.us/wherethemoneygoes.html

Sep
06
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 06-09-2017

visiononmountainEllendale School is seeking your help.  If you are a parent, community member, retired, business leader, or simply someone that cares about education, we need you.  We need your counsel and guidance.

Over the past 18 months several things have taken place in education that are allowing us to rethink how we do education.  These new flexibilities come from the dismantling of the old “No Child Left Behind”, the passage of the ND Innovative Education bill (NDCC 15.1-06-08.2), and a renewed emphasis on schools ensuring students are “Choice Ready”.  Each of these can breathe a breath of fresh air into our school and fundamentally change how we provide education to our children.  Each of these are driving our faculty and leaders to focus on a creating a new vision or path for our school.  These changes also drive home the stark reality that we need your voices to set this new path.

Starting in August the faculty and staff began a year-long process of setting a new course for the district.  Part of this process will begin with development of a new vision which will be the underlying principle for all we do.  We are working to refine our beliefs on education and how they could be in need of change.  Later this year we will be working on other topics including vocational readiness, star qualities, and systems to ensure our kids are “Choice Ready”.

We need you to solidify our work.  We need your input on these and other ideas that are fundamental to setting a new course for education in our community.  We understand that we honestly only see education from our perspective and that you (parents, business leaders, community members, etc) may see it from a different and valuable perspective.  To help gather your input we are scheduling several community forums in which we would love you to attend.  The first is set for Monday, September 18th at 6:30pm in the EPS Library.  A second meeting is set for Monday, October 9th at 5pm.  You are welcome to attend one or both.  Additional forums may be planned based on the results of these two gatherings.

To prepare for these forums consider these questions:

  • What are the two or three biggest changes in our society over the past 20 years?  What 2-3 skills do our students need to address these changes?
  • What skills are needed for our students to be successful in the working world?  Businesses what skills to our students need?
  • How and when should a student be able to learn?
  • What do we do to ensure each child is ready for college, career, or military?
  • What role does early childhood education play in the entire educational process?  How do we support that?

That is just a start and hopefully entices your to participate.  We hope to see you on Monday, September 18th!