Skip to comments.North Dakota oil patch schools say they are in crisis
Posted on 06/02/2012 8:22:52 AM PDT by thackney
chool officials in the northwestern North Dakota oil patch say they are in a state of emergency because of an influx of students and need state help.
Schools might need as much as $200 million to handle as many as 3,000 new students next year, Stanley Superintendent Kent Hjelmstad told state legislators during a Thursday meeting in Williston. The amount is double the estimate in a recent study done by a Bismarck consultant at the request of Gov. Jack Dalrymple.
Hjelmstad said needs include new buildings, additional staff, more buses, support for a growing special education population, teacher housing and equipment.
"There are literally kids standing there saying 'Where are you going to put us?'" Hjelmstad said.
The oil boom in western North Dakota is drawing companies and workers from around the country. Officials have been working to ease a housing crunch, and as more housing becomes available, more oil workers are going to bring their families, Hjelmstad said.
Several legislators on the Education Funding and Taxation Committee questioned why an increased property tax base in oil patch communities where new housing is being built won't be able to support growing school districts. Superintendents said eventually that will happen, but right now many students are living in temporary housing that doesn't generate tax revenue.
School officials also said they cannot wait until next year's legislative session for relief.
"These are right-now issues because we have to have the teachers by August. We have to have a place for them to live by August," Ray Superintendent Marlyn Vatne said.
McKenzie County Superintendent Steve Holen suggested several possible solutions, including re-evaluating school districts' debt limits, providing low-interest construction bonds and adjusting how oil and gas production tax revenue is distributed.
Committee Chairwoman RaeAnn Kelsch, R-Mandan, said she has suggested that cities assess a fee for new homes being built that could be designated to new school buildings.
This is the result of loose immigration laws. If people had to apply to move into a state,county or city then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Are you suggesting we would be better off requiring the governments permission to move into a new area?
In 1971 our little school was outgrown and they dragged in a couple of mobile homes with open, two or three room floorplans. I had a few classes in those every day and learned everything 6th grade had to offer. I suppose these boom and bust towns will want huge brick and mortar schools with outstanding, pace-setting architectural design innovations so they can double as oil boom memorials in the coming years.
Communities had to plan on whether the increase was permanent or temporary.
If permanent, you built more buildings and/or brought in trailers as satellite classrooms.
If temporary, you either brought in trailers, erected low cost Quonset huts or even contracted with local churches to use their space for the overflow.
Some schools guessed wrong and found surplus buildings on their hands at the end of the boom. Some communities converted them into senior centers. Others sold them to local farmers for pennies on the dollar to convert to hog barns.
Average class size for that era was close to 40 kids. Most of the teachers had to work during the summer to make ends meet. They weren't a separate government pampered unionized elite who earned more in nine months than most of the parents of their students earned in 12.
And, still, we managed to produce better results than most of our modern counterparts. Why do you suppose that is?
“Let me see your papers pleeeezzee!” (Said with the Nazi accent of the Gestapo guy in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”)
“They need a new education model not run by teachers unions, but by private enterprise.”
Maybe then we would have more engineers like we need instead of captain Planet brainwashed idiots we don’t.
I was being facetious. However if a fair mechanism could be found to prevent extreme fluctuations in students to a district, I’d be willing to consider some novel approaches.
Economics tends to be a good balancing tool. Along with higher demand comes higher prices which brings more suppliers.
In addition to oil, this works for teachers as well. Climbing prices also then to slow down the demand.
ONLINE education for most of what they need!!!! Just do NOT get the teacher’s unions tied into this!!! Perfect opportunity for someone to break the system!
Here’s a thought. Give them all vouchers that will pay for 1/2 of their tuition. If they decide to go online, pay 100 percent.
You mean like they had to in the former Soviet Union?
ND has some of the worst laws for homeschooling. Change that and tons of kids can go virtual.
Let educators set up their own charter schools. Private enterprise can act quicker than the Govt. Here is a good use for some of the FEMA trailers. That $67,000 per kid send them to Harvard.
Good points — how did America cope in the era of 40 kids in a class, much weaker teacher unions, and other issues? Yet it seems that kids got a better education back then compared to now, in spite of those problems.
I recently saw some talking head show on TV. An older black man was there; I don’t remember his name or why he was there. But anyway, he said that he grew up in the south in the days of segregated schools, and that he got a better education in his segregated school than kids get today in our major cities.
Ten years ago the crisis was not enough kids. Hell they we’re talking about letting the upper Midwest revert to prairie because of the falling population.
Look up the “Buffalo Commons” idea from the 80’s
In this case taxes is the balancing tool. Build a big expensive state of the art school and the watch the boom go to bust over an Obama/epa ruling. Guess who gets stuck with the bill? (Hint: not the ones who caused it)
The people who voted those idiots into office that made that decision?
$200,000,000 for 3,000 kids? That over $66,666 per kid. Additionally, 3,000 kids is just three regular sized schools. Somebody is jerking our chains.