SUBSCRIBE NOW AND SAVE 3 months just 99¢/month



North Dakota schools to get $419M from trust fund amid economic downturn, coronavirus

Willow Park Elementary students find bikes, friends and parents at the end of the school day on May 24, 2019, in West Fargo. Forum file photo

BISMARCK — North Dakota Superintendent Kristen Baelser announced Tuesday, July 7, that state K-12 public schools will receive $419.3 million for the next two years from an education trust fund, with the aim of softening any blows to state aid resulting from the coronavirus, low oil prices and overall economic downturns.

The money will come from the Common Schools Trust Fund, which gathers revenue from sources such as energy taxes, and the leasing of agricultural land. The fund had about $4.9 billion in assets as of the end of last year.

The $419.3 million being doled out for the next two years represents a 14.3% boost from existing spending. In the last eight years, the fund has provided $991.5 million for the education of North Dakota students.

“This fund has been a sustainable and robust source of support for the education of our students,” Baesler said in a statement. “It has helped to increase our state aid for education, which is vitally important at a time when enrollment has been rising.”

Statewide student enrollment was 94,729 in the 2010-11 school year. Since then, enrollment has risen 19% to 112,858 in the 2019-20 school year.


The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction is expected to release a set of recommendations within the coming weeks on the question of whether schools should hold in-person classes or online instruction in the fall.

Baesler has said she favors giving local officials more power over the decision, based on the prevalence of COVID-19 in their community.

Readers can reach reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at

What to read next
According to a release from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the bodies of an adult man, woman and infant were discovered at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The body of another male, believed to be a teenager, was discovered shortly thereafter. All of the victims were located approximately 40 feet from the U.S./Canada border.
Senate Democrats were joined by five Republicans in their attempt to vote the bill down.
The body will be sent to the state medical examiner in Billings for an autopsy.
North Dakota agents drop meaningful speculation in finale of two days of testimony to the House Select Committee on Investigation