2023 is here and with it brings much planning and preparation for the 2023-2024 school year as we look ahead to our staffing and facility needs on various levels. However, since it is an “odd” numbered year, it also means one major event is taking place starting this month – the North Dakota Legislative Session. The 68th Legislative Assembly began on January 3rd and will run through April, with the North Dakota Legislature only meeting once every two years it is very much a sprint the entire 80 days allowed by North Dakota Century Code. The actions taken during the legislative assembly have a major impact on North Dakota school districts and other political subdivisions and thus garners much attention as bills are filed and work through the legislative process. It is important to follow and be informed of the various bills and their impacts on our local school district and taxpayers within our school district boundaries.
The 2023 Legislative Assembly is also impacted by redistricting and we have two new representatives for our District this year with Representative Timmons and Representative Olson; Senator Patten is returning for another session. We appreciate the support received by our representatives and their leadership. One of the main topics for this session, as is frequently over the last several sessions, is continued property tax relief utilizing the positive financial situation currently existing at the state level. Property tax relief is typically conducted through school district funding as a major component of local property taxes; it is suspected this session will again pursue ways to revise the current Foundation Aid formula for school districts to further limit their reliance on local property taxes. Despite our relatively low General Fund levy in MCPSD #1, many school districts across the state are levying the maximum of 82 mills (MCPSD #1 is currently levying 46.13 mills). It is suspected the Legislature will attempt to reduce the current 60 mills used in the formula for local taxes to 30 mills. This will provide local property tax relief by replacing local tax revenue with state revenue, keeping in mind it will not provide any “new” money to school district but simply a different source. While the impact to our school district will be less than others, the general impact on our school district would be a positive pending any additional items included in the possible legislation.
There will be several other bills filled during the session and having potential impact on our school district. The Legislature often attempts to address curriculum items, professional development requirements, staffing requirements, and other funding items. Funding for additional mental health resource and staffing will be addressed as a major challenge for local school districts with limited resources available to help student achievement by addressing their general wellbeing. Transportation funding, for bus transportation, is also a major item especially for our rural school district with one of the highest bus transportation mileage totals in the state. One of the main items this session or consideration impacting our school district this session will be Career and Technical Education and additional funding for CTE Centers, such as the Bakken Area Skills Center, and mechanisms to provide operational funding for the Center(s) to be successful. The State recognizes the importance of Career and Technical Education in our state to address workforce needs and encouraging students to live and work in North Dakota in their adult lives. The hope is this recognition will correlate to support of additional state funding for CTE Centers to ensure their success and to address the inflationary costs associated with construction at this time.
With the session just beginning, there will inevitably be many surprises along the way until the final 80th day. Our school district is active in this process to ensure our local patrons are represented well and our school district impacts are considered with any new legislation. We look forward to a productive session and hopefully beneficial legislation for students and taxpayers. If you have any questions regarding legislation and/or impacts on our school district, please feel free to reach out to the District Office at any time.
Have a good January!