Jennifer Johnson is the K-12 education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. Contact her if you have any story ideas or tips and visit www.grandforksherald.com.
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WARREN, Minn.—Ever since Jose Paz Pruneda Jr. was born, he's divided his school year between Mexico, North Dakota and Minnesota. The son of Mexican migrant parents who travel for agricultural work, Pruneda works on school almost every month of the year, whether it's for a Manvel, N.D.-based migrant program or school in Warren, Minn., and in Mexico. If he's not in class, he's working on the farm with his family, he said. Then he starts the cycle all over again.
THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn.—At a small bowling alley in Thief River Falls last week, a big celebration happened in the middle of the day. Cheers and applause greeted student Courtney Fontaine, 14, after she bowled a strike. A special education student from Warren-Alvarado-Oslo High School, Fontaine is a member of her high school's adapted bowling team, the first in northwest Minnesota. Several teammates gave her high-fives.
LARIMORE, N.D.--For lunch Tuesday, Larimore elementary students stopped by the salad bar before piling meatballs onto their plates. For several schools, a salad bar for their youngest students isn't a big deal. But for the first time in Larimore, students have access to more fresh vegetables every day, thanks to serving units bought by the school last year, Superintendent Roger Abbe said.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Patrick Anderson's decision to be a special education teacher wasn't an obvious one. He graduated from the University of North Dakota with an exercise science major in 2011, unsure of his next step. But after a friend of his--who had a psychology degree--had success with the Special Education Resident Teacher program in Grand Forks, he considered it and applied. Now in the final stretch of the program, he feels better prepared for the future. Teaching special education "isn't something you just jump into," he said.
MUNICH, N.D.—For one year, Munich Public School students couldn't take a technology class because the district couldn't find someone to teach it. At a time when schools nationwide are pushing more technology and science into the classroom, the lack of a teacher in 2013-14 put high school students at a disadvantage, especially as they had to take several business classes to qualify for career and technical education scholarships, said Principal Daniel Ludvigson.
BISMARCK—A new federal education law that dramatically changes North Dakota's approach to education will soon be developed over the next year. North Dakota School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler and others are gathering this month for a meeting related to the Every Student Succeeds Act, a sweeping reform that replaces No Child Left Behind and promises states more flexibility on student testing and accountability. President Barack Obama signed the act into law Dec. 10.
GRAND FORKS -- Refugee resettlements in Grand Forks are expected to remain the same as in previous years, according to Lutheran Social Services. The city can expect four to 12 refugees to arrive here by October, said Katie Dachtler, resettlement services supervisor.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—A study released this month links higher dropout rates nationwide to increased hydraulic fracturing, but some North Dakota superintendents do see a link. Fracking increased the high school dropout rates among teenage males more than females from 2000 to 2013, according to the study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
BREAKOUT School board pay in North Dakota's 14 largest districts, by city and student population: Bismarck--population 11,989--$9,000 flat fee Fargo--population 11,145--$1,000 per month, travel for board business. West Fargo--population 8,970--$4,460 last year, travel for board business. Members receive same percent raise as staff.
LARIMORE, N.D.—Nancy Thompson, 32, teared up instantly at the memory. The first responder knew a train had collided with a school bus in Larimore. She knew there might be injuries. She and her husband—also a first responder and a firefighter—were among the first emergency personnel at the scene. The train conductor, engineer and a few homeowners who lived near the crash site were the only others present. It was one of her worst nightmares come true, she said. "It was chaos," she said. But despite her initial shock, she had a job to do, she said.