Legislative Issues and Priorities
Global “Perennial” Issues
- Unfunded/Underfunded mandates
- An adequate, equitable, and stable education funding system and taxation policy that meets inflationary/staff shortage demands
Priority Issues for 2023-2025
North Dakota School Boards Association (NDSBA) - Standing Resolutions
NDSBA Standing Resolutions are adopted by the Delegate Assembly and are uniquely legislative. They are dropped after four years unless brought to the Delegate Assembly for reconsideration. NDSBA Beliefs and Policies are permanent philosophical, legislative, and operational statements established by the Delegate Assembly. They are amended only by the action of that Assembly. In order to view NDSBA's total legislative platform, please access both Standing Resolutions and Beliefs and Policies.
North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders (NDCEL) - Position Statements
- High Reliability Schools (HRS) as Accreditation
- Costs Associated with English Learners (EL)
- School Construction Loan Program
- Teachers’ Fund for Retirement (TFFR) (solutions)
- Early Childhood Education
- Funding Adequacy, Board Taxing Authority, and Property Tax Reductions
- On-Time Funding
- State Funding for Special Education
- Career Impact Academy Matching Grant That Parallels Inflation
- After-School Programming
- North Dakota State Content Standards
- Safety and Security
- Behavior and Mental Health Services
- Teacher Recruitment
- Equal Distribution of Funding to REAs (Regional Education Agencies such as the Red River Valley Education Cooperative)
North Dakota Administrative Rules require the following:
67-19-01-44. Approval of public schools - Review process - Adoption of approval and accreditation process.
- To be certified as an approved public school, a school must participate and meet the requirements of a school improvement review process.
- To meet approval requirements, the review process must be:
- Designed to improve student achievement;
- Designed as a continuous cycle of improvement; and
- Approved by the superintendent of public instruction.
- The AdvancED Accreditation Policies and Procedures for AdvancED accreditation in effect on June 25, 2015, are adopted by reference.
- Copies of these policies and procedures for accreditation may be obtained from: North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, State Capitol; 600 East Boulevard Avenue; Bismarck, ND 58505-0440; nd.gov/dpi
History: Effective October 1, 2016.
General Authority: NDCC 15.1-02-04(1), 15.1-02-11
Law Implemented: NDCC 15.1-06-06(1)(d)
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS the recognition of Marzano’s High Reliability Schools as an accreditation organization.
The English Learner (EL) budget for the current school year for Grand Forks is $1,108,903. The revenue budget includes:
- A federal contribution of $47,882 (4.32%) which is a combination of $39,400 from the Title III federal program and $8,482 for a transportation grant.
- The state contributes $468,835 (42.28%) through state per pupil payments.
- The remaining $592,185 (53.40%) is funded through local district funds.
- The expenditure budget includes certified staff, paraprofessionals, professional development, busing, dues/fees, equipment, supplies, and textbooks.
We encourage the legislature to continue working on pursuing options within the funding formula and additional state grant opportunities to provide equitable resources to meet the educational needs of our ever-changing English Learner (EL) and Special Education (SPED) student populations. A considerable reliance on general fund resources is necessary to adequately fund educational services for these students.
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS enhanced EL funding.
North Dakota Law requires the following:
15.1-36-01. School construction projects - Approval.
- Notwithstanding the powers and duties of school boards provided by law, the superintendent of public instruction shall approve the construction, purchase, repair, improvement, modernization, or renovation of any public school building or facility before commencement of the project if the cost of the project, as estimated by the school board, is in excess of one hundred fifty thousand dollars.
- The superintendent of public instruction may not approve a project unless the school district proposing the project:
- Demonstrates the need for the project and the educational utility of the project or demonstrates potential utilization of the project by a future reorganized school district;
- Demonstrates that the student population has been stable or has increased during the preceding five school years and is expected to be stable or to increase during the ensuing five school years; or
- Demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that, despite a declining student population, there are no feasible alternatives to the proposed project; and
- Demonstrates the capacity to pay for the project under rules adopted by the superintendent of public instruction pursuant to chapter 28-32.
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS increasing the total funds available for the School Construction Loan Program.
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS any of the following solutions:
- A separate state appropriation that gives each school district an annual amount equal to 5% of their certified staff payroll, until such time as the rollback occurs to the pre-2008 contribution levels.
- A series of catch-up allocations from the state’s general fund sufficient to fund the plan to 100%.
- A rollback to the pre-2008 contribution levels when the TFFR plan is funded at 70% with the post-2008 increased contribution rates paid by state funds until the plan is 100% funded.
- Agreement to study the present funding system for TFFR and explore other possible solutions with appropriate stakeholders. A comprehensive study should include potential cost considerations, funding sources, legal implications, and impact on employees, employers, and the state.
We have lost a bit of progress in North Dakota in recent years regarding the adequacy and equity of state funding for K-12 education. To re-energize this progress, state effort needs to be at least constant across biennia. Accordingly, an increase in foundation aid equal to at least 8% per year for each year of the 2023-2025 biennium is necessary.
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS an increase in state foundation aid equal to at least 8% per year for each year of the 2023-2025 biennium.
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS direct state funding of K-12 education at a level adequate to reduce reliance on local property taxes.
Progress has been made in North Dakota in recent years regarding the adequacy and equity of state funding for K-12 education. Despite this progress, however, one area of significant regression relates to state funding for student enrollment growth.
Prior to 2007, school districts received state foundation aid based on the greater of fall enrollment or the preceding year’s Average Daily Membership (ADM). Under current state law, school districts receive state K-12 foundation aid based on the preceding year’s ADM. Prior year average daily membership is utilized to drive weighting factors in the funding formula. This works well for districts experiencing declining enrollment but has a very negative fiscal impact on districts experiencing enrollment increases. Districts with increasing enrollment must incur 100% of the cost of educating new students in the fall without adequate state aid support. Growing districts receive no additional funding unless certain thresholds are met.
The North Dakota School Boards Association, the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders, and the North Dakota School Study Council all support legislation that will address this issue of educational adequacy and equity.
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS legislation that provides an option for districts with an increased enrollment to use the fall student count to fund students in our classrooms during the year in which they arrive, rather than on prior year membership while holding harmless districts that may be shrinking.
The school district receives approximately $2.1 million from the federal government for K-12 students on Individualized Education Plans (IEP) under IDEA-B funds and $67.8 million through the per pupil payment (for all K-12 students). The district spends $21 million on 20% of students, that is, those who qualify for special education programming. Generally speaking, a student on an IEP costs about one-third more to educate due to specialized programming, adult-to-student ratio, etc. Important to note is that we educate and care for students who are, sometimes, at the end of life. Therefore, there is still a gap between the actual foundation aid per pupil payment and the district’s overall costs.
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS a mechanism that increases the per pupil payment based on the percentage of students who qualify for special education.
North Dakota State Law requires the following:
15.1-07-34. Provision of youth behavioral health training to teachers, administrators, and ancillary staff.
- Every two years, each school district shall provide a minimum of eight hours of professional development on youth behavioral health to elementary, middle, and high school teachers, and administrators. Each school district shall encourage ancillary and support staff to participate in the professional development. Based on the annual needs assessment of the school district, these hours must be designated from the following categories:
- Social and emotional learning, including resiliency;
- Suicide prevention;
- Understanding of the prevalence and impact of youth behavioral health wellness on family structure, education, juvenile services, law enforcement, and health care and treatment providers;
- Knowledge of behavioral health symptoms, and risks;
- Awareness of referral sources and evidence-based strategies for appropriate interventions; or
- Other evidence-based strategies to reduce risk factors for students.
- Each school district shall report the professional development hours to the department of public instruction.
- The superintendent of public instruction shall collaborate with regional education associations to disseminate information, training materials, and notice of training opportunities to school districts and nonpublic schools.
This law is an unfunded mandate, which also puts pressure on other professional development needs at the local level. Also, the language in the current law is too restrictive. An additional state-funded professional day and/or local flexibility for mental health training is needed. This professional development requirement should allow local options for appropriate training for evidence-based issues such as suicide, bullying, trauma, drug use, social and emotional learning, etc.
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS an additional one (1) state-funded professional development day and/or local flexibility for mental health training.
Multiple Yet Accredited Pathways to Teacher Certification
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS innovative pathways to teacher certification as long as instructional methods, content mastery, and behavior management are a requisite for certification. The district does not support the notion that “anyone can teach” without proper training.
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS tuition reimbursements for presently employed teachers to be recertified in another area of education (example: general education teacher seeking special education certification) particularly in hard-to-fill positions.
Grand Forks Public Schools SUPPORTS student loan forgiveness to address the teacher shortage in North Dakota provided the teacher agrees to remain teaching in North Dakota for a minimum of five years.
- Finance Other Then Funding
- Standards and Accountability
- Board Authority and Board Meetings
1. STATE AID FOR GROWING SCHOOL DISTRICTS. NDSBA shall support legislation that modifies the Foundation Aid Program to allow the use of fall enrollment to provide adequate state support to districts with increasing enrollment.
Adopted in 2012; readopted in 2016 and 2020.
2. STATE TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION. NDSBA believes the cost of maintaining, supporting, and enhancing this system should continue to be financed with state dollars and there should be no transfer of the cost associated with this network back to the local school districts.
Adopted in 2004; readopted in 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020.
3. STATE FUNDING OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND GIFTED AND TALENTED PROGRAMS. NDSBA supports the state ensuring program funding equity and full funding of special education costs to districts including gifted and talented education and to provide a permanent mechanism for the distribution of any surplus special education dollars.
Adopted in 2004; readopted in 2008 and 2012; amended and readopted in 2016; readopted in 2020.
4. FEDERAL IMPACT AID FUNDING. NDSBA shall support full funding by the federal government for federally impacted schools.
Adopted in 2011; readopted in 2015 and 2019.
5. NON-EDUCATION FUNDS TO PROVIDE FOR SAFETY ISSUES INCLUDING SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS AND HEALTH AND NURSING SERVICES. NDSBA shall seek legislation that commits additional non-education resources to provision of these necessary services so school districts may continue to provide for educational needs of students and receive support necessary to continue these very important non-educational services necessary to ensure safety and health of all students in the state of North Dakota.
Adopted in 2007; readopted in 2011, 2015, and 2019.
6. K-12 FUNDING ADEQUACY. NDSBA will take a lead role in discussions on continuing the commitment to “adequate funding” that the state has made to K-12 education.
Adopted in 2003; readopted in 2007 and 2011; amended and readopted in 2015; readopted in 2019.
7. COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS. NDSBA shall support the state ensuring program funding equity for school districts, including full funding of the costs associated with English language learners.
Adopted in 2014; readopted in 2018 and 2022.
8. SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION LOAN PROGRAM. NDSBA shall support increasing the total funds available for the School Construction Loan Program.
Adopted in 2014; readopted in 2018 and 2022.
9. TEACHERS’ FUND FOR RETIREMENT AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT SYSTEM. NDSBA shall support adequate and sustainable funding for TFFR and PERS programs.
Adopted in 2014; readopted in 2018; and amended and readopted in 2022.
10. EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION. NDSBA shall support separate state funding for preschool programs meeting prescribed standards.
Adopted in 2010; readopted in 2014, 2018, and 2022.
11. FUNDING ADEQUACY, BOARD TAXING AUTHORITY, AND PROPERTY TAX REDUCTIONS. NDSBA will support direct state funding of K-12 education at a level adequate to reduce reliance on local property taxes.
Adopted in 2006; readopted in 2010, 2014, 2018, and 2022.
12. REGIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATIONS. NDSBA shall support the State of North Dakota providing separate and additional funding to REAs and work toward expanding resources available to these REAs so educational opportunities for students and professional development for staff all across the state can be improved.
Adopted in 2005; amended and readopted in 2009; amended and readopted in 2013; amended and readopted in 2017, and readopted in 2021.
13. TAXING AUTHORITY OF THE STATE. NDSBA shall oppose any attempt to limit the taxing authority of the state.
Adopted in 2005; readopted in 2009, 2013, 2017, and 2021.
SALES AND USE TAX EXEMPTIONS OF SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION SUPPLIES AND MATERIALS. NDSBA will support the state making supplies and materials purchased by school districts through contracts with contractors for construction projects exempt from sales and use tax.
Adopted in 2003; readopted in 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019.
1. CURRICULUM CONTENT. NDSBA shall oppose state or national efforts to further define and mandate specific curriculum content.
Adopted in 2011; readopted in 2015 and 2019.
2. NORTH DAKOTA STATE STANDARDS. NDSBA shall support the ongoing implementation of North Dakota State Standards.
Adopted in 2014; amended and readopted in 2018; and readopted in 2022.
BUSINESS MANAGER CERTIFICATION PROGRAM. School boards support the Business Manager Certification Program by providing financial support through the use of school district funds to encourage business managers to participate in this voluntary professional development opportunity.
Adopted in 2012; readopted in 2016 and 2020.
1. DEADLINE FOR NEGOTIATIONS. NDSBA shall support legislation that would require and/or encourage contract negotiations to be pursued in good faith, diligently, and within a reasonable period of time in order to have an agreement reached between the school board and recognized representative organization by a specified deadline or impasse will be automatically declared.
Adopted in 2020.
2. COLLECTIVE BARGAINING. NDSBA shall oppose legislation mandating school boards to collectively bargain with employees other than those currently required by 15.1-16-01: “…public school employee(s) licensed to teach by the ESPB or approved to teach by the ESPB and employed primarily as a classroom teacher.”
Adopted in 2008; readopted in 2012, 2016, and 2020.
3. REMOVING COMPENSATION FROM NEGOTIATIONS. NDSBA shall support legislation amending the collective bargaining law to exclude compensation.
Adopted in 2007; readopted in 2011, 2015, and 2019.
SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM. NDSBA shall work with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, and the North Dakota Congressional Delegation to encourage the USDA to amend their federal regulations related to the School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and "a la carte" food sales to allow for local control.
Adopted in 2012; amended and readopted in 2016; readopted in 2020.
1. POSTING OF BILLS IN AN ALTERNATE FORMAT. NDSBA shall support state law changes to allow school districts the flexibility to post their bills using an electronic format such as the district’s Website.
Adopted in 2004; amended and readopted in 2008; readopted in 2012, 2016, and 2020.
2. PUBLISHING MINUTES. NDSBA will support legislation and seek sponsorship for legislation which would amend the requirement that school boards pay to publish minutes as defined in NDCC 15.1- 09-31.
Adopted in 1991, amended and readopted in 1995 and 1999; amended and readopted in 2003; re- adopted in 2007; amended and readopted in 2011; readopted in 2015 and 2019.
3. TAXING AUTHORITY OF SCHOOL BOARDS. NDSBA shall oppose any attempts to further limit or eliminate the taxing authority of school districts.
Adopted in 2005; readopted in 2009 and 2013; amended and readopted in 2017, and readopted in 2021.
- The NDCEL supports pursuing adjustments to the weighting factors in the K-12 School Funding formula that:
- Minimize the negative implications of getting transition minimum districts onto the formula
- Minimizes the negative implications of getting districts below 60 mills on the deduct to a 60 mill deduct.
- Finds an equitable way to get K-6/K-8 schools onto the funding formula.
- The NDCEL supports property tax relief. The form in which it takes place will need to be debated on its merits when we see the bill and worked on by the finance subcommittee of the Focus Group.
- The NDCEL supports the development of a transportation formula which would no longer block funds based on the simplistic versation of ridership and miles, but rather a subset of other factors driving efficiency in school transportation systems. To include an increase in overall dollars in the formula. Support means new formula - Oppose means sticking with the old formula but more money.
- The NDCEL supports on-time funding being fully executed as it currently stands in law unless legislative results could shorten that transition.
- The NDCEL supports additional funding to allow new teachers to continue to participate in the teacher mentor program for a subsequent year.
- The NDCEL supports funding for the administrator mentor program and for that funding to flow directly to the NDLEAD center to have the greatest financial support for school districts.
- The NDCEL supports adjustments to the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) or Teachers Fund For Retirement (TFFR) plans that allow for a hybrid plan.
- The NDCEL opposes adjustments to the PERS or TFFR plans that change it from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan.
- The NDCEL supports funding to support 1915i to open it for all students rather than just IEP students.
- The NDCEL supports funding for a Medicaid match.
- The NDCEL supports additional funding for student mental health which would be used locally or regionally directly in schools.
- The NDCEL supports a bill that would expand the definition of a school counselor to include important support positions such as outside contracted services, social workers, behavior interventionists, etc.
- The NDCEL opposes cyber security or computer science to be added as a graduation requirement.
- The NDCEL opposes cyber security or computer science to be a mandated course offering.
- The NDCEL opposes any graduation requirement that is not aligned to the Statewide strategic vision, creates a staffing inequity, or does not include a fiscal note for appropriate training.
- The NDCEL supports providing funding and resources to meet existing expectations determined by local education agencies and North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) prior to new programmatic requirements or mandates.
- The NDCEL opposes moving to a singular testing system which would include mandated formative assessments and sharing of district level student data with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI).
- The NDCEL is split regarding moving to a singular testing system option which would include mandated formative assessments and so long as there is no sharing of district level interim student data with NDDPI.
- The NDCEL supports home school laws that strengthen the state’s monitoring requirement of those children and that such monitoring would be conducted at the state level.
- The NDCEL opposes home school laws that increase homeschool autonomy and reduces monitoring.
- The NDCEL opposes any legislation that encourages the approval or development of state funded charter schools or vouchers.
- The NDCEL supports that all educational entities follow all the same accountability rules, requirements and regulations for any school accepting state funds.
- The NDCEL opposes legislation which would reduce the number of superintendents in the state creating forced parameters whereby a superintendent MUST run more than one district.
- The NDCEL supports a bill which would eliminate the sunset of the community expert (teaching) allowing those teachers to remain in the school.
- The NDCEL supports a bill which would provide for short-term contract options for schools for grant funded or other short-term positions so long as the contract is clear and the teacher is clear as to what they are signing.
- The NDCEL supports an adjustment to the language for the “Learn Everywhere” bill whereby the approval comes from the local board and does not need to go to the K-12 coordination council or the NDDPI.
- The NDCEL supports a bill that would indicate that all professional development is a local decision and other mandates would be shifted to a suggested list of professional development options for districts to consider.
- The NDCEL supports a bill that would adjust the professional development (PD) requirement for the Reading curriculum/science of reading so that mandated training is only required in areas determined to be lacking for in-state teachers (just as we assess teachers coming in from out of state). This training is also only required one time and growth is determined by the need of the district – not ongoing reporting.
- The NDCEL supports a bill that would provide opportunities for expanded signing on bonuses for teachers.
- The NDCEL supports a bill that would eliminate Special Education and High Costs student contracts (except for agency placed). **Ending billing back and forth between districts and the state keeping 75%.
- The NDCEL supports a bill that would prohibit state agencies from hiring a teacher that is under contract until the end of the fulfillment of their contract.
- The NDCEL supports a bill that would ensure that at least two members of the state board of public education and Career and Technical Education (CTE) board are superintendents and change the appointment from county to legislative districts.
- The NDCEL supports the Continuation of a K-12 Education Coordination Council (essentially re-established the Governor’s Commission on education). This council is to:
- Promote communication and collaboration across all K-12 entities in North Dakota.
- Assess initiatives from state and local K-12 stakeholders.
- Analyze the current K-12 system in North Dakota for bright spots, gaps, duplication, best practices, and areas for increased effectiveness and efficiency.
- Make recommendations and advocate for continuous improvement.
- Compulsory Attendance: The NDCEL supports investigating the roles of schools and parents regarding education and medical needs of students as they relate to compulsory attendance.
- The NDCEL supports using an accreditation process for continuous school improvement. Further, the NDCEL supports a school has more than one option for that accreditation. Example: High Reliability Schools (HRS) or Cognia.
- The NDCEL supports regulations on the accepting “out of district home school students” with companion cost sharing agreements for the purposes of generating revenue. (i.e.. Home school charter schools within public schools.)
- The NDCEL supports districts recruiting in-district home school students within their district to participate in their local virtual academy.