Candidates describe top priorities for educationWhat is the most pressing issue facing education in North Dakota today and what would you do about it?
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Editor’s note: North Dakota Senate and House candidates from District 12 answer questions in this periodic series leading up to Election Day.
Most of six candidates vying to represent District 12 in the State Senate and House agree that funding for education in North Dakota needs to be increased at the state level.
Currently the state covers about 70 percent of public school districts budget in money in lieu of property taxes.
When the Legislature increased the percentage from approximately 50 percent to 70 percent in 2009, property tax mills reduced by 75 as a result.
Here’s what each candidate had to say to answer “What is the most pressing issue facing education in North Dakota today and what would you do about it?”
John Grabinger: “The most pressing issue would be maintaining the 70 percent level that the state funds our education system in North Dakota. I think it’s critical that the Legislature continue to fund it at this level and if anything increase funding for our teachers, because I still believe when our teachers are ranked 47th out of 50th in pay, and we have the budget surplus we do, we’re not adequately funding teacher pay…”
Grabinger is the Democratic candidate for District 12 Senate. He is a former Jamestown City Council member and owner of Grabinger’s Marine of Jamestown.
Bernie Satrom: “I believe in Jamestown we have a lot of exceptional teachers, we have a School Board that functions very well and somehow as a country and a state we seem to be going backwards. Even though we have the best teachers, we try all the best techniques, we’re not necessarily making improvements, and unfortunately throwing money at it is not necessarily the answer. I think the biggest issue facing education today is kind of the way as the family goes that will be the way education goes, and unfortunately we have a lot of kids that are coming to school with a lot of hurt and a lot of needs that aren’t getting the attention…”
Satrom is the Republican candidate for District 12 Senate. He is the president of Maranatha Custom Churches, Inc. of Jamestown.
Jessica Haak: “North Dakota education is facing many pressing issues. Smart investments in education are essential to ensuring lasting prosperity and vitality. The place to start is with early childhood education. North Dakota is one of only ten states that doesn’t help fund Head Start, and one of only 11 states that provides no state funding for pre-kindergarten learning. A strong preschool is the number one job trainer for the future.”
Haak is a Democratic candidate for District 12 House. She is the membership development coordinator at North Dakota Farmers Union in Jamestown.
Ken Hall: “Education right now I feel it needs to be funded more, by the state and possibly increase teachers’ salary someway if we can. We need to also figure out a way to make sure our kids get a better education, because that’s the main goal of our education system. I don’t know just how to do that but there’s got to be a way to do it. I’m in favor of increasing funding at the state level probably up to 80 percent, it sits at 70 percent right now.”
Hall is the Republican candidate for District 12 House. He is retired from the federal government, including three years with the U.S. Army.
Lyle Hanson: “Funding is the main thing and I would say we should be at least 80 percent and were at 70 now and this would lower property tax, because about half your property tax is education.”
Hanson is an incumbent Democrat candidate for District 12 House. He is a retired teacher and has served in the North Dakota House since 1979.
Alex Looysen: “The main issue I’ve been hearing at the doors and all is guarantying the quality of education our kids are getting improves and or stays the same. In order to do that we need to take a look at a lot of factors. Out west the schools are going to be strained. We have to take a look out there and make sure we’re not sacrificing the kids’ education with a lack of teachers. Ultimately when it comes to education I’m all about ensuring our kids are getting the best education they can possibly get… Ultimately the children that are being educated are our next leaders and our next business owners and our next people functioning in society. So we need to make sure we take care of them so their future can be just as bright if not brighter than ours.”
Looysen is a Republican candidate for District 12 House. He is a student at Jamestown College and owns a lawn care business.
Satrom, Grabinger, Hall, Hanson and Looysen answered the question by telephone interview. Haak answered by email.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.comMore from around the web