More Students, More Decisions - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

More Students, More Decisions

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Millions of dollars are needed to keep up with a growing population of students.

That's according to a state funding committee.

North Dakota legislators have to find a way to pay for 10-thousand new students in two years.

The ND Education Funding Committee heard testimony from the director of school finance.

He says projections show 10-thousand new kids could force the committee to ask for more than 200-million-dollars more than it did last biennium - just to fund education at current levels.

The chair of the committee says it's another challenge facing a growing state.

<<(Sen. Tim Flakoll/ Ed Funding Committee Chair) "We need to properly fund those students, but there's a lot of other needs out there too certainly, with infrastructure, oil, roads, bridges, other needs that exist within the state. So we kind of have to work at it in the context of making those priorities. Certainly, for me, students are a priority.">>

The Education Funding Committee creates the bill that provides the base funding for education.

Right now, the state pays a little more than 9,000 dollars per student.

Flakoll expects that to increase to about 10,000 dollars per student, next biennium.

A group representing school administrators says whatever money the state provides to education, it needs to come with few strings attached.

Members of the North Dakota Council of Education Leaders say schools need flexibility to teach all sorts of skills, not just the ones that show up on standardized tests.

They say businesses ask for students to have skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

Those things don't show up on A-C-T type tests...

(Dr. David Flowers/ ND Council of Ed Leaders) "The good news is, what gets measured gets done. The bad news is, what gets measured gets done. If all we measure are basic skills then I assure you we're going to narrow the curriculum and we're going to lose sight of some of those other things that we value."

The state pays about 80-percent of the public school cost in North Dakota.

Members of the Council of Education Leaders say in the past, legislators have been good about not tying too many directives to the money.

The rest of the cost of education is picked up by local districts.

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