Student numbers up -- and that means more spending

Jan 26, 2018

Department of Public Instruction director of school finance and organization Adam Tescher testifies before the Legislature's interim Education Finance Committee.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s K-12 student population continues to grow.

“Our fall enrollment count was 108,945," said Adam Tescher, the director of school finance and organization for the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. He told the Legislature’s interim Education Finance Committee that was up more than 2,000 students from the fall of 2017.

Tescher says the projection for the next biennium is an increase of 2,900 students in 2019, and another 3,300 students in 2020.

"Most of these student increase are coming in the growth of our kindergarten, our young classes," Tescher said. "As you can see, in  2018, we will be graduating about 7,300 seniors, and our projection is to come in at about 10,300 kindergarten students. So that's a 3,000 student increase."

Tescher told the Committee he did some projections on how much more money will be needed in the 2019-2021 biennium – just to hold the per pupil payments the same as in the current two year period. He said he used the current $9,646 per pupil payments to make his forecast.

"After we increased the contribution from property taxes, and local in lieu of property taxes, we're projecting it's going to increase spending by about $78 million for the next biennium," Tescher said. "That's before any rate changes."

The interim Committee is looking at the current funding formula.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner is already suggesting the Legislature will have to use more money from the Common Schools Trust Fund to help pay for the new students.