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Helmut Schmidt, Published August 22 2012

ND superintendent hopeful: tie school aid to current enrollment

WEST FARGO – Kirsten Baesler wants to revamp how North Dakota pays K-12 foundation aid, and boost students’ college and career readiness by funding remedial learning programs and advanced placement classes.

Baesler, the Republican-endorsed candidate for superintendent of public instruction, laid out her initiatives at a news conference today outside Sheyenne 9th Grade Center.

With heavy construction equipment roaring in the background, Baesler said that the state should make foundation aid payments based on the current year’s enrollments, rather than pay school districts aid based on their previous year’s enrollment.

For fast-growing school districts like West Fargo, which will open with another 500 students this fall, that aid will be invaluable in providing the books, teachers and buildings that they need, she said.

“We must be able to meet the needs of a growing population” fueled by a strong economy and the Oil Boom, she said.

She also called for better use of student assessment tests, such as the ACT, to determine which high school students need remedial help before they graduate, and to offer grants to school districts to create pilot programs to provide that remedial training.

Finally, she called for more state funding for dual credit and advanced placement classes in high schools.

Eventually, she’d like 25 percent of graduating seniors to have at least one semester of college credit, she said.

Baesler is a teacher and assistant principal in the Bismarck School District and president of the Mandan School Board.

She is opposed in the superintendent race by Tracy Potter.

Potter is a former state senator for Bismarck, and was the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee in 2010. He is executive director of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction is a non-partisan race. The office carries a four-year term. The current salary is $102,868 per year.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583