December 21, 2011

More students means more money for school

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Christmas may have come a little early for the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 in the way of new school busses being funded by the McKenzie County Infrastructure Fund and more state money because of the rapid increase in the district’s student numbers.
“The district requested $986,000 from the McKenzie County Commissioners for the purchase of 11 new school busses, a new suburban as well as a GPS mapping system,” Supt. Steve Holen told school board members during their Dec. 12 meeting. “The good news is that the county commissioners approved our total request from the County’s Infrastructure Fund.”
According to Holen, the county commissioners were very receptive to the district’s transportation needs.
In other good news, Holen shared with the board that the district received $445,740 from the Department of Public Instruction’s Rapid Enrollment Grant.
“The amount that we received from the Rapid Enrollment Grant is less than what we had budgeted to receive,” stated Holen.
The Rapid Enrollment Grant Program was created by the North Dakota Legislature to help school districts that are experiencing rapid increases in their school enrollment.
McKenzie County Public School District No. 1, which received the largest grant award this year, was among 10 school districts in the state to receive a grant. According to the grant guidelines, in order to be eligible for the grant, a school district had to have seen its enrollment grow by a minimum of 7.5 percent as well as to have seen a minimum number of 25 new students.
McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 has seen an enrollment increase of 114 students, or a 19.5 percent increase, from the fall of 2010 to the fall of 2011. According to the school district’s census figures, the district had 586 students at the start of the school last year and 700 students this fall. Currently the district has an enrollment of 738 students.
“Only 10 schools in the state qualified for the grant funds,” stated Holen. “And most of those that did qualify were in the northwest part of the state, which is seeing the impact of the oil industry.”
During Monday night’s meeting, the school board also accepted the early retirement notifications from Pam Suelzle, Deb Kellogg, Kirk Flaten and Marilynn Simpson from the district’s teaching staff.
Three board members, Kelly Norby, Jerry Samuelson and Brent Arnegard, also indicated to Supt. Holen that they would not be seeking re-election to the school board when their terms end.
In other business, the school board:
• Approved Supt. Holen’s formative evaluation process with Holen receiving satisfactory ratings in all categories.
• Tabled action on the sale of the Art Dept.’s pottery kiln.
• Approved the hiring of two new school bus drivers.
• Approved hiring Debra Van Dyke as a Special Ed. aide at the high school for one hour per day.
• Approved hiring Scott Wisness as a junior high boys basketball coach.
• Approved increasing the hours of the assistant high school secretary from 7 to 7.5 hours per day.