Lawmakers get education primerLocal incumbent and newly-elected state legislators learned about several levels of schooling in a special Jamestown Public School Board meeting Monday night.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Local incumbent and newly-elected state legislators learned about several levels of schooling in a special Jamestown Public School Board meeting Monday night.
“This whole process is going to be a bit of a primer in education for everybody,” said JPS Superintendent Bob Toso.
Seven core areas were discussed. One of the top issues was special education funding. With the Anne Carlsen Center located in Jamestown, this issue has special significance in the community, said Rhoda Young, special education director, James River Cooperative.
Two types of students are placed at the ACC: those placed voluntarily by their parents, and those placed by the school district.
In some cases parents place their child at the ACC and move to the area to help with the transition.
A bill passed last session that provided a break to the district last school year totaling $90,410 in boarding care costs for students sent to ACC. Its effects only last until June 30, 2013, though.
“From our position, because the Anne Carlsen is here, and because parents want to move where their kids are, it was penalizing taxpayers to tune of $100,000 or more a year,” Toso said.
Greg Allen, board member and president of the North Dakota School Board Association, presented some positions from the state-wide group.
The one that drew the most discussion was the school lunch program and trying to establish local control.
Currently the United States Department of Agriculture and partly the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mandate how much and what type of foods are served to students.
Allen said the district has been receiving complaints that the portions are too small and students at the high school and middle school aren’t receiving enough food.
“We’re finding all kinds of issues with the limited portions and that’s really become an issue for our kids,” Allen said.
If the district bucked the federal guidelines the price of hot lunch would rise to the level where it would become unaffordable for the district and possibly the students.
Allen said one solution was to provide more money as a state, so local districts could have more control.
“It’s not only the types of food but also for fundraisers,” he said. “They’re putting limits on what you can actually use as a fundraiser.”
Jamestown Education Association President Rebecca Taylor said some teachers feared the state would try and limit their collective bargaining rights.
Also the need for more certified staff on hand to dispense medications was discussed. This could become a liability issue with more and more students on medications, Toso said.
Other issues discussed were the Teachers Fund For Retirement, JPS mill levy reduction history, other state-wide issues from NDSBA, other JEA issues, vocational education and the JPS budget.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org