Keeping students in districtWith seven students and/or their parents opting to leave the Jamestown Public School District, the Jamestown Public School Board discussed what to do to keep students in Jamestown schools at Monday’s meeting.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
With seven students and/or their parents opting to leave the Jamestown Public School District, the Jamestown Public School Board discussed what to do to keep students in Jamestown schools at Monday’s meeting.
One kindergartener, one sixth-grader, two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior were on the agenda at Monday’s meeting seeking to move to the Pingree-Buchanan school district.
The board votes on people leaving and coming to the district at each meeting.
The decision to approve the no cost tuition agreement fell on the Jamestown Public School Board. If the board approved, roughly $4,000 in foundation aid per student would be given from the state to the other district.
If the board denied the no cost tuition agreement the other district would not receive the foundation aid for the first year of that student’s education.
Parents and students can choose to open enroll into another district for the following year if the process is completed after the school year starts before the March 1 deadline. Foundation aid would be available the first year.
The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act makes it difficult to give specific examples of why students leave, said JPS Superintendent Bob Toso
The Jamestown Public School District recently started a questionnaire for parents who have a student that leaves, but there is no requirement that it be filled out.
Without citing specific cases, Toso said oftentimes it’s the parents, who attended a rural school, who want the same environment for their children.
“Somebody needs to find out and get a true and accurate reading why these people are leaving,” said Roger Haut, board member.
Toso said the district sent out a letter to everyone who has left asking for reasons why and has only gotten one or two responses.
Board member Greg Allen said just because students decide to leave doesn’t mean there is necessarily anything wrong with the district.
“We shouldn’t automatically assume something is broke ...,” he said. “I don’t think we should assume our schools are broken and that’s what causing all of this.
“We should do what we can to find out the issue, if there are some issues.”
Board member Shelly Jystad suggested requiring parents to give information on why the parents decided to leave the district before the board votes on a no cost tuition agreement.
“I continue to feel when someone leaves our district that there may be something that we can do to keep this family in our district,” Jystad said.
Toso said he wouldn’t be able to hold onto the applications to leave the district and that they would have to go before the board, even if parents decline to answer.
He then said if the board feels the students should stay here then it should vote to deny the no cost tuition agreement, which would cost the receiving district the foundation aid.
“If that’s your core belief then I think you want to consider denying these,” Toso said.
Board member Gail Martin said the School Board used to vote to deny these requests in the past.
“A couple of years ago we were voting no on these and I don’t know what happened,” Martin said.
Jystad said ultimately the money should follow the child.
“I’m very sorry Jamestown loses that money, but I’m more sorry they lose the child,” she said. “I believe that it’s punitive to say ‘if you’re not going to go to our school then you’re not going to get any money.’”
Each separate vote was the same, 6-1, for approving the no cost tuition for the seven students.
Haut, Allen, Jystad and board members Heidi Larson, Terry Anderson and Roy Musland were in favor with Martin opposed. Board members Tanya Ostlie and Diane Hanson were absent.
In other news the board agreed on adding a budgeted support staff position for an in-school-suspension room at Jamestown High School.
The position will cost the district about $12,000.
In-school suspension is for students who either have attendance and/or behavioral issues. Those students will be isolated from the rest of the student body for a period of time, where they will complete their school work.
“It’s a separation from their friends and the social aspects of school, which to some students in the best aspect of the day,” Toso said. “… You’re never going to have too many kids in there so the supervisor can make sure they’re working on school things.”
Musland was the lone vote against creating the position.
“I think attending school is a privilege and I’d rather see our money invested in programs and students that want to actually be in school and learn,” he said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org