New School Funding Formula Approved by N.D. Legislators
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on 2006-07 school year data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
State lawmakers in their recent legislative session pulled off a comprehensive rewrite of North Dakota’s K-12 funding legislation, averting a legal battle with nine school districts that had filed suit saying they were being illegally shortchanged of aid.
The new law consolidates most of the money dedicated to schools from state revenues and redistributes it so as to smooth out the differences in school spending among districts with different needs and property-tax resources.
The deal was initially struck in January when Gov. John Hoeven agreed to seek at least $60 million in new education funding over the next two years. In the end, with the state reserve flush, the increase rose to $91.5 million in a biennial school aid budget of $796 million, starting July 1.
The new school aid formula ensures that every district will get at least 90 percent of average per-pupil spending provided by the state.
Another new funding provision gives schools money for full-day kindergarten starting in the 2008-09 school year. Currently, the state funds only a half-day.
“We think that by the end of the biennium [in 2009], 80-percent-plus of school districts will have full-day,” said Thomas G. Decker, the director of school finance for the state education department.
Lawmakers also enacted a law to increase the units of yearlong coursework needed for high school graduation from 21 to 22 in 2010, and 24 in 2012. The bill requires that students take at least four years of English, two each of mathematics and science, and three of social studies.
Vol. 26, Issue 36, Page 22