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Dickinson schools prepares for challenging new year

Dickinson Public Schools is preparing for even more changes with the coming school year.

At a meeting of the DPS Board Budget Committee on Wednesday, Superintendent Doug Sullivan brought issues for information purposes so the committee has an idea of possible financial responsibilities for the 2013-14 school year.

"We continue to see kids enroll every week," Sullivan said. "We see new houses opening up all over town and so we're a little bit on pins and needles waiting to see what the next four months will bring."

With rapid changes happening in the community, the school board and its budget committee could be asked to make quick decisions, and having the information ahead of time allows those decisions to be informed, he said.

One area experiencing several changes is the special education department, which is headed up by Dorothy "Dot" Martinson. There are several programs, including one that requires the school district to identify and provide services to homeless students.

"This information really shows that we are truly -- our expectations of Dot in the special education services area are -- you'd have to be able to twirl plates and some other things," committee Chair Leslie Ross said.

One of the changes being considered is adding staff to special education administration, including coordinators.

But the March 1 sequester of federal finances could change funding for the department, creating more uncertainty in a growing district.

"If the district moves forward with trying to address some of the impact of sequestration through Title I, it is possible for us to do some combining and be able to address this special education director possibility with one of those positions."

Budget changes could eliminate the Read 180 program -- a remedial reading course for sixth- through ninth-graders -- but it could be combined with the special education positions the district is hiring.

"We have to be as flexible and creative as we can," Ross said.

The committee made no decisions Wednesday.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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