ND School Enrollment -- Taking Back Lost Ground - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

ND School Enrollment -- Taking Back Lost Ground

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Senator Tim Flakoll, Chair, Education Funding Committee, 10/28/13 Senator Tim Flakoll, Chair, Education Funding Committee, 10/28/13
Top five growth areas.  Source:  ND Department of Public Instruction, Presentation to Education Funding Committee, 10/28/13 Top five growth areas. Source: ND Department of Public Instruction, Presentation to Education Funding Committee, 10/28/13

 

It wasn't that long ago when the number of North Dakota kids was on the decline.  But those days are over, as enrollment is up nearly across the board.

The only region showing a decline is Jamestown, down by 47.  Otherwise, the State has 2,668 more students over last year.  The largest increases are in Fargo, Dickinson and the Northwest.

"So we lost 25,000 in that 15 year period, but now over the last four years, we've gained about 8,000 of those back," says Jerry Coleman, Director of School Finance, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

To help districts keep up, the legislature created Rapid Enrollment Grants.  But for this school year, total money left over in district budgets is projected to reach nearly $280 million dollars combined.  While noting each district is different, some lawmakers express concern regarding excessive "Ending Fund Balances."  The Department of Public Instruction explains a certain amount of cushion is needed to carry districts through the year -- the issue is how much? 

"What do we need to feel comfortable? -- to be able to pay our debts, to take care of unexpected kinds of issues, to keep a reasonable, going concern ending fund balance that we can pay our teachers our time and not have to borrow money.  That's why they have them.  The timing of those revenue receipts varies," notes Coleman.

In their meeting today, several members of the Education Funding Committee said when this much money is sitting around, districts should not request Rapid Enrollment Grants and other funding -- but should, instead, reduce local property taxes.

 

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