5 things to know today: Care facilities, Private school, Boundary changes, Sunshine laws, Budget surplus
A select rundown of stories found on InForum.
1. COVID-19 cases spike at North Dakota long-term care facilities, but vaccines reduce severity
The number of COVID-19 cases has spiked in North Dakota's long-term care facilities throughout January, especially among staff members, as the highly contagious omicron variant continues to raise infections statewide.
The number of cases inside the state's nursing homes rose to 666 as of Thursday, Jan. 20, according to the North Dakota Department of Health. This is substantially higher than the approximately 50 active cases reported in December, said Shelly Peterson, president of the North Dakota Long Term Care Association, during a virtual news conference on Thursday.
Although the omicron variant is putting additional pressure on North Dakota's nursing homes, COVID-19 vaccines have had a substantial impact on the number of resident deaths and case counts.
2. New private school set to open in Fargo this fall
A new private school plans to launch in the metro area later this year, touting a "classical Christian program."
Capstone Classical Academy is private, religious and tuition-based, a brainchild of local business-minded people and educators.
With the first day of classes set to begin on Aug. 23, the school will focus on Pre-K-6 grades, according to the company’s website. Area residents involved in the school’s founding are “actively pursuing acquisition of property in southwest Fargo for a building site,” according to the school’s website.
On its Facebook page, Capstone lists the current address as 3910 25th St. S., the site of Antioch Church that was formerly United Methodist Church. It is unclear if classes will be held at the church.
Hoping to enroll 560 students, founders believe the school will offer a distinct method of education not offered by any other area school.
One additional grade will be added each year after opening, according to the school’s website.
3. 'We love it': Students, staff discuss what Horace High School has to offer amid boundary changes
After West Fargo School District student Ruby Kidder attended her first year of junior high at Liberty Middle School on the track to becoming a Sheyenne High School Mustang, she wasn't willing to suddenly become a Horace Hawk.
"I hated the thought of coming here," Kidder said. "I didn't want to leave [Liberty] and I really hate change."
Despite her initial reservations of moving out of the Sheyenne High School feeder system to Horace High School, Kidder, now a sophomore at Heritage High School, is happy to be in Horace.
She, along with fellow Horace High School sophomores Sophie Richard and Kallie Knott, spoke to parents and potential students during an open house Thursday, Jan. 20. While the three spoke to the group of about 40 regarding their current block school day design, they also know what it is like to face a potential change of school in your future.
The West Fargo School Board will vote to adjust school boundaries on Monday, Jan. 24, a change that would add elementary schools to the Horace High School feeder system instead of the Sheyenne High School system. Most of the boundary changes will be felt by families at Aurora Elementary School, where about 70 students from each grade are expected to shift into the Horace High School feeder system.
4. Stark County afoul of ND sunshine laws, North Dakota AG office opinion finds
Stark County was found in violation of North Dakota’s Sunshine Law in failing to provide requested records within a reasonable time and failing to communicate an explanation for the delay in response to a request for public records in 2020, according to an opinion filed by the North Dakota Office of the Attorney General on Wednesday.
The complainant, Leslie Ross, alleged that the Stark County Board of Commissioners violated North Dakota Century Code by not providing requested records withing a reasonable time and improperly denied her request to obtain records related to finalist applications for a human resources position.
In North Dakota, the Open Records Statute is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies.
Anyone can request public records and no statement of purpose is required. There are no restrictions placed on the use of records nor is a response time specified according to the open records statute NDCC 44-04-18.
5. Gov. Tim Walz's pitch for budget surplus includes $350 checks to Minnesotans
Minnesota households could be eligible for up to $350 direct payments, and front-line workers that stayed on the job during the pandemic could receive an extra $1,500 this year, under a plan that Gov. Tim Walz put forth Thursday, Jan. 20.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor said Minnesotans should benefit from the state's $7.75 billion budget surplus. And as part of his plan for the funds, more than $4 billion would go toward direct payments, worker recruitment and retention programs, grants for farmers and broadband expansion.
Walz rolled out his ideas for the surplus during a Thursday news conference at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. And he said Minnesotans, the state's greatest asset, should reap the benefits of the state's strong financial position.
"This is about expanding an already vibrant economy, it's about making sure we're lifting up those were hurt hardest during the pandemic and it's making sure there's a long-range vision about where Minnesota's going," Walz said, "and we're well positioned to do that."