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Education equity debated in state Senate

By Dave Thompson

Bismarck, ND – North Dakota's Senate has voted to change how state aid is handed out to schools.

The Senate voted 30-17 to raise the school district mill levy deduction. The change will take state aid from schools that have more taxable property to support each student. It will redistribute the aid to schools that have less taxable property per student.

The result is a shift in state aid. In some cases -- rural districts will be losing aid. And the money will go to schools in Grand Forks, Bismarck, Mandan, Williston and elsewhere. Those larger districts are considered property poor.

Sen. Layton Freborg (R-Underwood) sponsored the bill. He says it's a necessary change to help the state if it ends up in court over its school finance system.

Critics of the plan say it could result in higher property taxes in some rural school districts.

The mill levy deduction now is 32 mills. Under Freborg's bill -- that will go up to 36 mills this year -- and increase by another two mills each year, indefinitely.