Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 30-11-2017

Tis the season for our annual letter from the Dickey County Auditor’s Office.  I know it brings all of us exceeding joy to receive those pink sheets in the mail with our tax statements.  In an effort to help you understand more about the schools request here is some information about where the local tax dollars are spent.


This information is for the 2017 tax season and the 2017-2018 school budget.

The major portion of the school tax request funds the General Fund which provides funding in combination with state funding to complete the majority of the school functions.  This year the GF expenditure is $4,295,762.00 which is a reduction from 2016-17 by $359,000.  The reduction is due in part from the elimination of two FTE positions last spring.  The GF request of $1,180,000 will equate to a mill rate of 70 mills and is actually an increase in dollars of $17,724 from what was received the year previously.   In part the reason for the increase in local funding is due to a reduction in state funding from the captureND DPI.  State per pupil formula funding in 2016-17 equated to $2,728,409.  This year 2017-18 that is expected to only be $2,484,389 or a reduction of $244,020.  This is due to a reduction in students enrolled and an increase in the mill deduct within the formula.

The second largest part of the 2017 tax request equates to 20.97 mills ($360,000) which funds the Sinking & Interest fund.  The S&I fund is the fund that pays off the bond for the 2010 construction project.

The final two parts of the request for this year are the Miscellaneous Fund and Building Fund.  The Misc Fund has a maximum request of up to 12 mills.  This year the Ellendale School Board has only requested 2.92 mills ($50,080) which will be used to pay for fuel costs for busing.  The Building Fund request will be similar at 2.95 mills ($50,600) to be used for building maintenance costs.


Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 17-11-2017

a9f0ed9fcdfae06a4c103e73c5329353One of the endeavors we have been undertaking this year is an exploration in how we can improve and enhance our school to work connections.  I became interested in this topic a couple years ago for numerous reasons:

  • A lingering resentment against the one-test fits all accountability for schools.  The NCLB era had set a high standard however put to much focus on one test.
  • Concerns that our society had put to much emphasis on every student attending a four-year college, not taking any regard for their readiness.
  • The increasing cost of higher education and how an extra year or two there can cost families $20-40,000.
  • Student disconnect as to why they were engaged in this process of K-12 education.  Students were losing focus as to why they were in our classrooms and what it meant for them and their future.
  • A belief that all kids have talents and we must do better in refining them and putting a kids feed on a path to use them in their future career.

In 2015 I began working with a group, at the national level, focusing on re-framing school accountability from a test driven system to something more broad and encompassing.  That work was part of the AASA Redefining Ready project.  You can find out more about Redefining Ready at   During this process I became excited about the work in several schools around the nation that we renewing the focus on school to work connections.  What I mean by that is not pigeon holing students to a career early.  Contrary we need to create processes in our schools to help families and students better understand the many career options they have before them;  Create processes in our schools to assist student in determining their strengths;  Provide information to parents and students on course options both in our school and outside of the walls of EHS; And ensure we have critical conversations with students so they better understand how coursework here, connects to post-secondary options, which drive college/work decisions, and ultimately result in a career.

One would think this is a pretty easy process.  It is not, and the parents at our public meetings echoed that fact.  The path from school to work is filled with pit falls.

So Ellendale School began working with our parents and business leaders to begin a process of improving our school to work programs.  At this point it is still early, we have much to do.  However, we have started to align our academic programs to the new ND Choice Ready Framework.  We are working with our business partners to create a resource document for our families and students to help them navigate course and career options.

In the future it is my desire to see each and every HS course to have a community business partner.  This partnership would enable our students to get first hand information from business leaders, even their future employers, about the skills they need to compete.  We also need to work with our teachers and career counselors to ensure our career counseling activities are robust and aligned.

Making your way from 7th grade, to graduation, to post-secondary, to work is not easy.  But, I do believe with cooperation from our families, students, and business partners we can make it a smoother transition that may allow a student to see their future more clearly than they can now.

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 03-11-2017

2015april-needyousamYou know the old slogan, “We Need You”.  It was true during the war and it is true again.  Parents, community, volunteers… WE NEED YOU!

On an average day it takes about 60 people to operate your school.  This includes everything from administrators, teachers, office staff, custodians, to bus drivers between the hours of 7:30 to 3:30.

Now add in the number of substitutes we need every day to address teachers being out of the classroom for professional duties to sick leave.  A rough average need for substitutes (for all positions) is about 3-5 employees a day are absent for any given reason.  So the number now grows to 65.  After 3:30 when the final bell rings it is not uncommon to have one or two extra bus drivers to cover a route vacated by a driver who is now taking a team out of town.  That  now means we need 67.  During that same after school time we will have 5 to 8 coaching positions being filled by both on-staff and off-staff coaches.  Now we pass 70 ending up around 75.  Finally, have a game in town and we swell that number by 4 to 10 more when we include concession stand managers, officials, clock operators and ticket takers.  So on any given day we can run from 60 to 85 different people needed to keep our little world spinning without interruption.

This is why we need you.  This year we have had multiple instances where we have had to move teachers out of their normal courses to cover other classrooms.  Many times this is due to the comfort level of our substitute teachers.  So you end up moving 2 or 3 people to accommodate the willingness of a sub to cover a certain subject.  In fact this week, we just hired sub D, to cover for Sub C, who was replacing Sub B, who was covering a classroom during an extended leave.  Yes, four different people to accommodate one long term leave.  This does not include the time during the day when present faculty are also helping within that classroom during that very same absence.  WE NEED SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS.

We also need coaches.  I am sure you see the want ads in the paper and probably think “I am to busy” or “This won’t work for me”.  The need for coaches at the varsity and sub-varsity level is not as imperative at this time as it is in our JH and Elem programs.  At this present time we need 1 more JH BBB coach and 2 elementary wrestling coaches.  Without coaches to fill some of these positions the only recourse is to cancel the seasons.  We can’t have a team without a coach.  WE NEED COACHES.

Busing is almost a constitutional right, or it feels like it.  You have heard me preach this before that our shortage of bus drivers is critical.  It is!  Without substitute bus drivers, just this year, we have had to alter or combine routes several evenings.  On at least one night this year we were close to shutting down bus service to an elementary GBB game, because we needed the driver for a varsity event.  WE NEED BUS DRIVERS.

Fans coming to games we hope don’t see all that goes on to make those events such a success.  But, games don’t get played without officials.  This does not matter if it is football, volleyball, or basketball.  Fans may not always like them, but they are a necessary component to sports.  Many schools, including Ellendale, are finding it very difficult to find officials for all levels of participation.  The NDHSAA has shared concerns about the number of officials for all varsity sports and created new enrollment guidelines for new officials to help add more to the ranks.  However, even at our elementary and JH events we are very short of just people with a basic knowledge of a sport willing to grab a whistle.  WE NEED OFFICIALS.

Your school does not operate without help and many times these are the small jobs.  We need coaches, substitutes, bus drivers, and officials.  WE NEED YOU.