Education | Prairie Public Broadcasting


North Dakota schools receiving ESSER funding

Mar 22, 2021

North Dakota schools have received, or will be receiving, a separate pot of money from federal COVID relief funds.

It’s called “ESSER,” which stands for "Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief."

State school superintendent Kirsten Baesler said the schools received $33 million in April, 2020, and $135.9 million in December, 2020, and will receive $305.3 million under the new American Rescue Plan.

Hazel Nielson

Oct 28, 2020


On this date in 1923, a bold headline on the front page of The Bismarck Tribune declared, “Illiteracy Waning Under Steady Fire.” The State Department of Education had created the slogan “No Illiteracy by 1924.” Hazel Nielson, the directory of adult education, was working tirelessly to make sure that the 9,927 adult North Dakotans who claimed to be illiterate on the 1920 census were reading by the end of the year. She traveled around the state to meet with teachers and organizations working on anti-illiteracy campaigns. Night schools to teach reading were being established around the state. Miss Nielson announced the great progress being made, like in Grand Forks County, where the number of illiterate residents had been reduced from 294 to 174.

Bismarck Public Schools

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a problem North Dakota schools have been facing for a while – hiring substitute teachers.

"Often times, substitute teachers are retired teachers, who like to stay involved in education, and make a couple of bucks," said North Dakota United president Nick Archuleta. "They're reinvigorated by hanging around young people. But since many of them are over the age of 60, they're very concerned about substitute teaching, and possibly being infected with the coronavirus."

The director of the state department of Career and Technical Education said offering courses during the recent shutdown of schools has been a challenge.

And Wayde Sick expects the challenge to continue, as school districts are looking at either opening school doors, continuing distance education or a “hybrid model,” combining both on-line and in-person instruction.

"We're going to have to figure out what that looks like, and how we cannot lose the importance of 'hands-on' education that comes in career-tech ed," Sick said.

Governor Doug Burgum says when school was closed this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first time any such move had ever happened in North Dakota.

He says now - schools will be moving forward with their own plans to deliver education to the state's 120,000 K-12 students. But he says opening schools won't be as easy as closing them.

As UND prepares to re-open its campus, students coming or returning to campus this fall will see some changes, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UND Vice President for Finance and Operations Jed Shivers said the goal is to have a “less dense environment,” to prevent the spread of the virus.

"We're going to have classrooms that have a normal capacity of 100 people be limited to 30 or so, to maintain six feet of social distancing," Shivers said.

At the same time, Shivers said UND wants to make sure faculty will be confident in teaching in the classroom.

The state Board of Higher Education has voted to submit a “needs based budget” to Governor Burgum for consideration, as he prepares his executive budget request for the 2021-2023 biennium.

When Burgum issued his budget guidelines, higher education was asked to reduce its general fund request by 10 percent. That would come in a reduction in higher-ed’s funding formula. That would drop the appropriation to $574.7 million.

MSUM dropping ACT/SAT admission requirement

Jun 30, 2020

Minnesota State University Moorhead has now adopted a “test-optional” admission policy.

That means ACT or SAT scores are no longer a requirement for admission.

MSUM director of undergraduate admissions Tom Reburn said studies have shown the ACT and SAT tests often do not reflect what a student may actually achieve in college.

"When we look at our own data, and understood the students that came to MSU-Moorhead, and found success, we saw a much stronger indication of success actually came from he high school GPA (grade point average)," Reburn said.

The North Dakota State College of Science has completed its formal “action plan” in response to a state audit.

Minot State to modify its tuition model

Jun 22, 2020

Minot State University is making some changes in its tuition model.

It’ll be before the Board of Higher Education later this month.

"When the current model we've been using was first put in,  It was designed to associate on-line and distance education expenses with the revenues, and put them into a separate bucket," said Minot State Vice-President for Administration and Finance Brent Winiger.

Winiger said since that time, on-line education has growin to about a quarter of the classes the University offers.