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ND to investigate redundancies in education

BISMARCK — Online education is a topic included in an interim legislative committee study, which will look at possible duplication of educational services in North Dakota.

The goal is to determine whether some services could be consolidated to save money, said Sen. Erin Oban, D-Bismarck, who chairs the state's education policy committee.

"There's a lens on everybody that offers education services that receives state dollars," Oban said. "That's just the reality of the budgets we're working with."

The North Dakota Department of Career and Technical Education and the North Dakota Center for Distance Education both offer distance learning opportunities to North Dakota students, which will likely be discussed by the committee.

Alan Peterson, state director of the North Dakota Center for Distance Education, said the organization provides a service in some areas in the state where they may not be able to receive services from any other state entity.

"We try not to be redundant. What we try to find are the gaps in the system and fill them," Peterson said. "That is the role that we take and that is the role that (the center) has had since 1935."

Oban said the education policy committee also recently asked the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders to conduct a survey of administrators, asking districts what services they seek that they cannot provide directly in their district and why. Survey results will be discussed at a committee meeting on Monday, Nov. 20.