18 school districts sign joint powers agreement
Representatives from 18 school districts signed a joint powers agreement Thursday, with a goal of improving services to students. "This opens tremendous opportunities as far as how we do education in North Dakota," said Bill Goetz, Gov. John Hoev...
Representatives from 18 school districts signed a joint powers agreement Thursday, with a goal of improving services to students.
"This opens tremendous opportunities as far as how we do education in North Dakota," said Bill Goetz, Gov. John Hoeven's chief of staff, at the signing in Fargo.
The South East Educational Cooperative will represent more than 20,000 students in the southeast corner of North Dakota. The largest school is Fargo with about 11,000 students. The smallest is Sheldon, an elementary school district with 27 students.
Five other agencies, including North Dakota State University and North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, also are part of the agreement.
The joint powers agreement allows schools to share services without consolidating or closing.
"Your new goal is to become indispensable to member school districts," said Wayne Sanstead, state superintendent of schools. "We can achieve more for students when we come together."
The cooperative's board, made up of a representative from each participant, now will determine what services the schools will share.
A preliminary survey of districts found interest in developing alternative high school opportunities, technical education, summer programs and advanced placement classes.
The districts also will look into sharing administrative services, such as grant writing and professional development.
Sharing services is not only better for students, but it's better for taxpayers, said Sen. Gary Lee , R-Casselton.
"I know we can do more and better things and yet levy our tax dollars further," he said.
During the first two years of a joint powers agreement, each school must participate in at least two student services and two administrative services. Eventually the cooperative will have to offer five of each type of service.
About 80 percent of North Dakota's students are represented by similar cooperatives, Sanstead said.
Other cooperatives are in the regions of Williston, Bismarck, Dickinson, Devils Lake, Jamestown/Valley City, Bottineau, Grand Forks and the central part of the state.
To encourage districts to form such agreements, the North Dakota Legislature set aside up to $2 million for use by these schools.
The southeastern cooperative could bring in up to $200,000 for area schools in the first year.
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Erin Hemme Froslie at (701) 241-5534
Participants in the co-op
School districts: Cooperating agencies:
Central Cass, Fort Ransom, North Dakota State Fairmont, Fargo, Hankinson, University, Tri-College Kindred, Lidgerwood, Lisbon, University, North Dakota State Mapleton, Milnor, North College of Science, South Sargent, Oakes, Richland 44, Valley Special Education Multi-Sargent Central, Sheldon, District and Richland County Wahpeton, West Fargo and Vocational and Technology. Wyndmere. - Forum staff reports