BISMARCK, N.D. _ A bill that would provide grants to school districts experiencing rapid growth was discussed Tuesday in the state Senate Appropriations Committee, with some questions about how to define that growth.
Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, outlined House Bill 1261, which would allocate funds over the 2013-15 biennium for grants to school districts experiencing rapid growth.
“We have $13.6 million in the bill,” Flakoll said. That is down from
$17 million in the original bill, he said.
Flakoll said HB1261 would provide grants to a district with an increase of at least 20 new students. The increase, determined by districts’ annual Sept. 10 enrollment report, would have to be at least 4 percent.
Sen. Gary Lee, R-Casselton, asked Flakoll where the $13.6 million figure came from. Flakoll said the Department of Public Instruction calculated it using current growth projections.
Grand Forks Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nybladh said HB1261 isn’t equitable to all growing school districts. He said Grand Forks saw an enrollment increase of 223 last year.
“One man’s rapid growth is another man’s moderate growth,” Nybladh said.
The district’s rate of growth was about 3 percent, not high enough to qualify for a grant.
Nybladh said the increase is difficult to manage.
“We can’t absorb it,” Nybladh said. “As someone who has to handle the local budget, no, you cannot.”
Bev Nielson of the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders said HB1261 is a step in the right direction.
“It’s not perfect but it makes an effort to pay for students,” Nielson said.
No action was taken Tuesday on HB1261. Sponsors of the bill are Reps. David Monson, R-Osnabrock, Pat Hatlestad, R-Williston, Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck, David Rust, R-Tioga, Mark Sanford, R-Grand Forks, Mike Schatz, R-New England, Alon Wieland, R-West Fargo, and Sens. Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, and David Oâ€™Connell, D-Lansford.