• NDASA LEGISLATIVE ISSUES/BELIEF STATEMENTS
    by the 2014 Representative Assembly
    May 8, 2014 

    1.   REPRESENTATION:

          A.     The NDASA supports the creation of the Legislative Focus Group to prepare position statements, supporting documentation and ongoing analysis of the work of the Interim Education Funding Committee, the Picus Study on the Recalibration of the Foundation Expenditure per Pupil and other Legislative Resolutions adopted by the Representative Assembly.

    2.   FINANCE:

          A.     The NDASA opposes any legislation that creates new mandates without full funding.

          B.     The NDASA supports increased funding to the Foundation Aid program.  Any recommendations included in the Picus Study that are adopted by the Legislative Assembly must be fully funded.  Further, any of these recommendations must be phased in over an appropriate period of time in such a manner that recognizes the current educational delivery structure in the State and provides districts with reasonable timelines to meet any new standards of performance. 

          C.     The NDASA opposes any punitive measures that reduce or eliminate funding for school districts during the implementation period for any new standards.

          D.     The NDASA opposes increases to the Foundation Aid program that are used solely for Property Tax Relief, unless the overall funding level has been increased to meet the existing needs of school districts.

          E.      The NDASA will advocate for changes to the recommendation of the Picus Study for any of the following areas that may be under consideration for adoption by the Legislative Assembly as outlined by the NDASA Legislative Focus Group.                

          F.      The NDASA supports substantial increases to the School Construction Loan fund to provide additional support for school buildings. 

          G.     The NDASA supports excluding the Local Contribution calculations in the Foundation Aid formula if the funds are committed to building construction or debt service payments.

          H.     The NDASA supports the continuation of a system of funding school transportation that is separate from the Foundation Aid program.  The NDASA further supports a substantial increase in the appropriation to fund increases to the current mileage and ridership rates.

          I.       The NDASA supports foundation aid payments to declining and increasing enrollment districts.

          J.      The NDASA supports the study, prioritization, and recommendation of the NDASA Legislative Focus Group regarding a change to the Foundation Aid Formula. The NDASA study includes (but is not limited to) the following scenarios:

                   (1)    Revert to old law prior to 2007.

                   (2)    The current year ADM with initial payments based on fall enrollments.

                   (3)    As a fallback position, the NDASA supports changes to the Rapid Enrollment Grants program that remove the 4% threshold for qualification, increases the per pupil payment to match the current Foundation Aid per Student Payment, and requires a comparison of ADM and Fall Enrollment for the same grade levels (i.e. K-12 for both or PK-12 for both, rather than the current PK-12 ADM to K-12 Fall Enrollment).

          K.     The NDASA opposes any proposal to further limit the general taxing authority of school districts. 

          L.      The NDASA supports the restoration of an amount equivalent to the Financial Institutions Tax that was distributed to school districts during the 2011-2013 biennium and distributing this amount on a per student basis through the Foundation Aid formula.

          M.     The NDASA supports local control to determine an Ending Fund Balance to allow a school district to operate within a reasonable business model.

    3.   REFORM ISSUES:

          A.     The NDASA supports the implementation of the North Dakota State Standards.

          B.     The NDASA supports a combined system of school approval and accreditation based on a school improvement model such as AdvancEd that whenever possible carries the ability to have local, state, and federal paperwork requirements be managed through these processes to eliminate duplicative reporting.

          C.     The NDASA supports use of state-federal student assessments; however, these tests must be useful to educators concerned about improving the instruction of children.  Further assessment choices should not negatively impact ability to appropriately implement standards.

          D.     The NDASA supports quality schools which are defined as locally driven with a plan for school improvement.  Locally derived performance and North Dakota State Standards should be a part of the curriculum, and they should be related to a district’s mission, goals, and objectives. Schools should:

                   (1)    Provide educators who are role models who are trained and current in research and instructional methods.

                   (2)    Be supported financially and emotionally by a community interested in collaboration for children.

                   (3)    Be focused on teaching and learning.

          E.      The NDASA supports quality schools which are defined as containing high standards and 21st Century skills for all students that are aligned with curriculum and instruction in conjunction with assessments that reward and measure academic progress.  Students should:

                   (1)    Learn to be good citizens by understanding and practicing democracy.

                   (2)    Learn to respect and get along with others amid an atmosphere of learning and individual comfort.

                   (3)    Practice and understand health and safety.

                   (4)    Prepare for the world of work.

                   (5)    Seek to be good managers of time and resources.

                   (6)    Develop skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, mathematics, and problem solving.

                   (7)    Learn to examine and use information.

                   (8)    Appreciate culture and beauty.

                   (9)    Respect and understand the world around them.

          F.      The NDASA supports quality schools which are defined by performance and content standards in North Dakota:

                   (1)    A school should be linked to a School Improvement Planning process via AdvancEd’s or the approved model through the Department of Public Instruction.

                   (2)    Performance and Core Content Standards should serve as guides within the improvement process.  Local schools shall retain the right to select and approve local curriculum.

                   (3)    Locally selected curriculum should be adopted based on a district’s mission, goals, and objectives.

                   (4)    There shall be high standards for all students that are aligned to curriculum and instruction and in conjunction with assessments to measure and reward academic progress.

          G.     The NDASA opposes using any economic rewards or sanctions, and ranking of schools based on performance.

          H.     The NDASA opposes any legislative mandates regarding how schools should achieve outcomes.  The “how to” is best left to the professionals in the school system.

          I.       The NDASA opposes public funding of non-public schools through such mechanisms as vouchers, tax credits, tax-free savings accounts, etc.

          J.      The NDASA opposes home schools or private schools that are not accredited by NDDPI and are not taught by licensed teachers and opposes any local, state, or federal financial incentives for supporting non-public schools.

          K.     The NDASA supports locally controlled quality schools which are defined as an “educational experience” which attempts to provide activities designed to further the progress of the whole student in relation to his/her needs, abilities, interests, and achievement.  The high schools should make available to each student: 

                   (1)    4 units (courses) of Language Arts (English);

                   (2)    3 units (courses) of Social Studies;

                   (3)    3 units (courses) of Mathematics;

                   (4)    3 units (courses) of Lab Science;

                   (5)    1 unit (courses) of Physical Education and/or Health Credit (½ unit of each);

                   (6)    3 units (courses) of the arts, world/native languages, or courses in technology;

                   (7)    5 units (courses) of electives including career and tech education in other enrichments according to the interests of the student.

          L.      The NDASA supports current North Dakota high school graduations requirements as defined.

          M.     The NDASA opposes any federal mandates that require the removal of principals or teachers as a part of the “turnaround schools” requirement as outlined in the “BluePrint for Reform” for the reauthorization of ESEA or as a requirement for Title 1a school improvement grant (SIG) eligibility.

    4.   CREDENTIALS ISSUES:

          A.     The NDASA supports the current rules for administrative credentials provided it allows state programs in educational leadership to allow required course preparations which are K-12 in content (curriculum, school administration, etc.) and can be taught in any sequence order as long it is an approved program of study. The NDASA also supports basing credential decisions on agreed-upon outcomes and not just inputs.

          B.     The NDASA supports the creation of an “Administrative Standards and Practices Board” for the purpose of setting and reviewing standards for training and credentialing of school administrators if attempts are made to change the current rules or move the process to the ESPB.

          C.     The NDASA supports studying and implementing creative modalities to help deal with teacher shortages such as an accelerated credentialing process from degreed professionals in others fields.

    5.   RETIREMENT ISSUES:

          A.     The NDASA supports the use of any “margin” in the TFFR funds to be used to increase benefits for members through formula rather than with a pre-funded health insurance program.

          B.     The NDASA supports the current defined benefit plan used by TFFR as opposed to any defined or hybrid contribution plan.        

          C.     The NDASA supports efforts to support an actuarially sound TFFR fund.

    6.   PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ISSUES:

          A.     The NDASA supports the local control of design and schedule of professional development programs for teachers and administrators that are state funded.

          B.     The NDASA supports increased funding of the ND LEAD Center.

    7.   SCHOOL CALENDAR/YEAR/DAY ISSUES:

          A.     The NDASA supports local school board authority to establish the school calendar, school year, and school day.  In the interest of student safety schools should be able to start school two hours late or dismiss school two hours early without loss of a student contact day.

          B.     The NDASA supports moving to a minute or hourly model to track student contact/school calendar.

          C.     The NDASA believes that the minimum school day should be 360 minutes for high school students and 330 minutes for elementary students.

          D.     The NDASA supports having extended, compensated days for staff development which are a part of the school calendar.

    8.   OTHER:

          A.     The NDASA supports a state funded comprehensive solution to provide school health personnel support to meet the needs of students and the statutory requirements regarding the disbursement of medication to students.

          B.     The NDASA supports a comprehensive system to support the Behavioral and Mental Health needs of elementary and secondary school students, including funding for appropriate school staff, as well as funding or incentives that develop and foster community-based programs and facilities to meet these needs.

          C.     The NDASA supports authorizing and funding of voluntary developmentally appropriate early education programs for 4-5 year old children.

          D.     The NDASA supports legislation that requires mandatory school attendance upon enrollment in a in a public school.