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Council of Educational Leaders exec: Schools will feel the pinch of flat funding


The executive director of the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders said she understands why Governor Burgum has proposed a “hold even” budget for K-12 education.

Dr. Aimee Copas says everyone realizes the pandemic and the drop in oil revenues will mean a number of state agencies are facing spending cuts.

"From that persepctive, not taking a cut is a great thing," Copas said. "We're appreciative of that."

The per-pupil payment will stay at $10,036. Copas said the flat per pupil payments pose some realistic challenges for local school districts – one being how to deal with increased expenses.

"That poses a unique challenge for local school districts, as we approach contract negotiations," Copas said. "We're coming off a year where our teachers have probably done a heroic effort with our students."

Copas said another interesting conundrum involves transportation funding.

"We want to ensure there are dollars there to keep running school buses next year," Copas said.

Copas said that is a worry. But she said the NDCEL has a lot of confidence in the Legislature.

"Legislators have traditionally, on an on-going basis, been huge supporters of education," Copas said. "We're really hoping that, working with Legislators, we will find light at the end of the tunnel."

Copas said lawmakers may look at such things as the Common Schools Trust Fund, as a source for increased money for local schools.

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