Forum to look at the future of education

If we could look into a crystal ball, would it help us determine what we can do for the future? Would it show what our students and teachers need in the classroom?...

If we could look into a crystal ball, would it help us determine what we can do for the future? Would it show what our students and teachers need in the classroom?

Finding a vision for the future of education for North Dakota is the basis for a forum in Dickinson on Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 8-10:30 a.m. at Dickinson's West River Community Center.

The Roughrider Education Services Program (RESP) has invited regional school superintendents, principals, school board members and community leaders to this first-time forum to discuss the vision for education regarding Joint Powers Agreements in the state.

A JPA is an agreement among school districts to collaborate on initiatives which benefit the educational process. It also provides a model for statewide grassroots education legislative initiatives that support local and state needs, states the North Dakota Joint Powers Agreement Web site.

The North Dakota Consensus Council (NDCC) is facilitating the event and four speakers will talk about a variety of issues pertinent to education in the state.


The event is a precursor to a strategic planning meeting for RESP, said RESP coordinator Lois Myran with the Dickinson Public School District.

"There are nine JPAs to cover the state and each is holding their own meeting to gather information from the local community on how they view their future," Myran said. "To accomplish our goal of looking at the future of JPAs in the state, we are providing some information pertaining to important educational issues from the past year to those who attend."

The forum will start with an updated history of where JPAs stand in the state and their evolution, she added.

"The North Dakota Education Improvement Commission will report on their work with things like the equity lawsuit," Myran said. "Jon Martinson with the North Dakota School Board Association will discuss what's happened at this point in time and particularly how that relates to JPAs."

A brief historical perspective of joint powers agreements regarding student demographic changes is planned by Tom Decker of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, she added.

Dickinson State University President Dr. Lee Vickers also is slated to report on the P-16 taskforce initiative and Dr. David Looysen, the Minot Public School District superintendent, is going to review other states' education practices regarding similar entities to North Dakota's JPAs.

"Other states call their JPAs 'Regional Area Education Associations' and 'Regional Service Areas'" Myran said. "We want to look at how they are best practiced in states like Iowa and Wisconsin to see what we can learn from them. Looysen can give us his perspective on experiences as an administrator in Iowa."

After the speakers are done, the NDCC is facilitating a discussion about what RESP believes is a vision for the state when it comes to JPAs, she added.


"Based on the information provided by the forum, RESP participants will discuss their vision of JPAs for the future," Myran said. "After the nine JPAs of the state conduct these forums, we will collect the data and in October, JPA leaders will meet in Bismarck for the third Education Leaders Meeting (ELMIII). At that meeting, we will talk about how we will build a strategic plan and governance model for the state."

The goal of the area meetings is to get information from area administrators and community leaders, she added.

"We are working together on what we can do for our area and state as a vision for education," Myran said. "The general public could contact any lead administrator with RESP or the JPA after the ELM meeting to know what vision was developed."

Myran's role with the forum is to organize the event, as the nine coordinators for the JPAs worked this past summer to provide these forums.

"We are always looking at the future direction to get as many people involved, making sure we are on track," Myran said about the JPAs work. "My hopes for the forum are people will have a better understanding of what RESP is, what education is like in North Dakota and how we serve students and teachers in the southwest region of the state."

For Myran, the goal and purpose of the forum is two-fold and involves "getting people to know the vision and direction of education and JPAs, along with getting community leaders input."

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