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Governor's School braces for loss of ND funding

Jeff Boyer

GRAND FORKS—The director of North Dakota's Governor's Schools and its students are bracing for the possibility the program may not be around in the near future.

The program, a six-week summer residential academic program at North Dakota State University for high school sophomores and juniors across the state, receives funding through appropriations to the Department of Public Instruction. Under House Bill 1013, which determines funding for the department in the coming biennium, the program may be eliminated.

"I was definitely sad," said director Jeff Boyer. "It is a transformative experience for these young people. ... I get to watch them evolve and mature in that short time because of the intense nature of the experience."

Boyer said the Governor's Schools received about 200 applicants for this summer's program, its largest number ever. Boyer said the program has room to accept about 100 students.

HB 1013 currently is in conference committee, where three members from the House and three members of the Senate discuss differing versions of the bill.

The program's schedule runs from the beginning of June through mid-July, which means it crosses two fiscal years. As a result, Boyer said, a shortened version of the program can run this summer through the end of June.

"We did let people know we're just on hold temporarily until we see what the status is," he said. "There will be a program this summer. What it will look like is not clear yet, we've got to work that out."

Tobias Zikmund, a high school junior in Park River who has been accepted to this summer's program, said he felt an urge to advocate for Governor's Schools funding.

"It's in a month or two, and they just cut it off, so it disrupted my summer plans," said Zikmund, whose letter to the Grand Forks Herald about the program was published Tuesday. "So I thought I'd fight for it."

For the first two years of the program, which started in 1990, the Governor's Schools received funding through a federal grant. Boyer said any kind of federal funding again may be an option in the long term but would not be possible in the short term.

"There are not opportunities like Governor's Schools in this state," Boyer said. "There isn't a program that has this intense of an academic experience for young people."