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Published August 01 2012

Dalrymple offers plan to help schools in high-growth areas

BISMARCK – Gov. Jack Dalrymple proposed Wednesday a $225 million plan to help schools facing rapid student enrollment growth, a plan his challenger says was needed sooner.

Dalrymple shared his proposal to enhance state support for these schools during the North Dakota Governor’s Education Summit in Dickinson.

“The state’s strong economy is creating new jobs, new career opportunities and it has played a major role in reversing the state’s long-standing population decline,” Dalrymple said in a statement. “With growth have come challenges for school districts, particularly those in the state’s oil-producing counties. We have provided significant resources to assist these schools, but we can do more to ensure that our educators have the resources they need to provide the best education possible.”

Dalrymple’s proposal involves:

State Superintendent Wayne Sanstead said he was “encouraged” by Dalrymple’s proposal.

“I think the bottom line is that this clearly was a pledge to do more in the world of state support for the schools that are struggling to meet the challenges,” Sanstead said. “It’s state support that the western schools are looking for.”

Sanstead said he knows there will be people who say the proposal is far too little or is far too much and doesn’t include them.

“I’m still mindful there’s a legislative-making process. I’m sure the debate will go forward,” Sanstead said. “But at least this is a great beginning.”

Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor of Towner said his gubernatorial campaign has consistently pushed the issue of education funding in oil impact areas and made education a centerpiece of his vision for North Dakota’s future.

“There seems to be an increase of summits, news releases and plans that might take effect midway through 2013 now that we’re three months from an election,” Taylor said in a statement. “In a Taylor administration, needs would be addressed when they are plain to see, not months and years later.”

Oil tax revenue is piling up at the state Capitol instead of going to work right away to handle the impacts of growth, Taylor said.

Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications

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