Dickinson School Board addresses challenge of student mobilityStudents flowing in and out of classrooms has become an oil-impact issue for Dickinson Public Schools, board members and administrators said Monday at a regular meeting at the Central Administrative Building in Dickinson.
By: Katherine Grandstrand, The Dickinson Press
Students flowing in and out of classrooms has become an oil-impact issue for Dickinson Public Schools, board members and administrators said Monday at a regular meeting at the Central Administrative Building in Dickinson.
From Sept. 10, 2011, to Sept. 14, DPS had a net gained of 48 students, Assistant Superintendent Vince Reep said. There were 504 students that came into the district, while 456 left.
“We need to cognizant that yes, there are a lot of new people coming to Dickinson and they’re moving in, but there’s a lot of mobility out of Dickinson and in the state, too,” he said. “We have a number of families that come … they get here and they find out that it’s not that case in all of the instances.”
Of the incoming students, 394 transferred from out-of-state.
“We are a very mobile district, with that many students coming and going,” Reep said. “We’ll continue to do our best to make sure all those kids are welcomed and educated to the best of our ability.”
Board President Kris Fehr questioned the effect of student mobility on the day-to-day business of a classroom.
“I think our teachers have done a really good job of being flexible and trying to meet their needs,” Dickinson High School Principal Ron Docktor said. “Our biggest problem has been though, getting their records to follow them in a good, timely manner.”
Records may come a few weeks after the student, and school staff finds out the student has not been in the correct class(es) or program(s), Docktor said.
Curriculum varies from state to state and from school to school and that can also pose a challenge to teachers, especially those whose incoming students have been to several districts in the past school year, Board Member Leslie Ross said.
“That poses a challenge in the classroom sometimes, just with their foundational skills and where they’ve been and what they’ve done and it doesn’t always match where we’re at,” she said.
The district will be posting for an English language learner instructor position because of the number of students who do not speak English as a first language, Reep said.
It has also added paraprofessional positions to help address classroom needs, he said.
A greater impact on the school district should equal a greater amount of funding, but that may not be the case do to a change in the way property tax relief is delivered to the schools.
The state pays 75 mills to the schools to provide property tax relief to the citizens of North Dakota. In previous years it was a dollar-for-dollar payment on the amount each district was levying per mill, Reep said. In the 2011 biennium, this formula changed and became an average of the mills throughout the state.
In Dickinson it changed to about 71 mills of funding or a loss of $200,000 for this school year, Superintendent Doug Sullivan said. The 2013-14 school year could see a $700,000 loss.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple told Sullivan and Reep in an earlier meeting that he would be open to helping schools further, but was unclear about what that meant, Sullivan said.