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McNeff: Impacts of Measures 5 and 8

By Staff | Oct 24, 2014

I wanted to provide some information on these two measures and their impact on our schools. I will begin with Measure 5. This measure is primarily funded by out-of-state special interest groups. The proposed amendment will dedicate 5 percent of North Dakota’s revenue from its oil extraction tax to a new conservation fund overseen by a 13-member advisory board. Should the measure pass this amendment would last for 25 years. We need to be aware of the following:

1. It creates a lack of flexibility regarding the use of state funds. With the change in the education funding formula – schools get their primary funding from the state. This proposed amendment will pull money off the table to fund schools. Mike Nathe, co-chair of the education finance committee, has stated that Measure 5 will reduce K-12 funding should it pass.

2. It is driven by out-of-state special interest groups.

3. It mandates $4.8 billion in conservation spending over the next 25 years. It requires that the commission spend at least 75 percent of the money every year.

4. It does not provide clear details about how the money will be spent.

Measure 8 is the Labor Day Measure. Voting yes means that schools; by law, will begin their academic school year after Labor Day. What patrons may not realize is that voting yes on Measure 8 also means that you have given up your chance to have a voice in the process for the long term. Currently, we operate under a system of local control. Our school community – the school board, administrators, teachers, parents and patrons – currently all can have a voice in deciding when to start school. If you vote to move the school start date into law – you will no longer have a choice or option to adjust our school calendar to suit our school community. Regardless of what the implications are in a given year or a given community, you are locked in.

Sports and extra-curricular schedules would not change as a result of the school start change. Dates, schedules and venues are locked in statewide for the next 7-plus years. This would create an even larger disparity for those students who participate in fall athletics. It is possible that fall activities could experience a decline in participation. This has been seen by other districts who have recently started after Labor Day.

Starting after Labor Day should be a local community and school board decision. I have included a projected calendar with this article. This calendar mimics this school year’s calendar and is not official. The school year would start on September 8, 2015 and end on June 7, 2016. Graduation would occur on June 12, 2016.

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