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GF schools plan for future

The Grand Forks Public School District should end within budget for the latest fiscal year, according to the district's business manager. Bill Hutchinson told the Grand Forks School Board at Monday's meeting that revenues for the year, which was ...

The Grand Forks Public School District should end within budget for the latest fiscal year, according to the district's business manager.

Bill Hutchinson told the Grand Forks School Board at Monday's meeting that revenues for the year, which was from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009, were about $72.2 million. Expenses were about $71.7 million, roughly $523,000 less than the revenues.

But the financial statement doesn't include all the expenses for the year, he said. Some additional items soon will be added into the fiscal year.

Still, Hutchinson said the total spending should be below the budgeted amount after auditors are finished with the statement.

Future plans

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The board also discussed planning for the 2009-10 school year, and talked about several assessments and studies that could have a large impact on the future of the district.

Superintendent Larry Nybladh said a music and theater arts needs study could lead to facility changes when completed. "Likely, we will see emerge from that needs assessment some sort of a physical project," he said. "The scope and dimension of that remains to be seen."

He said the board will decide what to do next once the assessment results are available.

The study is part of the board's planning themes for the school year, basically a list of things the district now should focus on to improve and keep an eye on future needs.

Nybladh said the most important part of the suggested list of themes was improving student achievement. One piece of that goal is differentiated instructional practices, which he described as "attempting to meet the needs of the learner rather than the teacher."

He said that effort identifies what works best to improve students' learning, and called it a "paradigm shift" from traditional educational models.

"I do think long-term it will have a big impact on student achievement," he said.

Two related items are a long-range facility plan and an organizational study, which will look at how the district is structured and also determine how to best use existing facilities in the future. Nybladh said they are both "major initiatives" that will require a lot of work to complete.

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"It seems prudent to me ... that the time is right for us to do this sort of work, to begin the process of really examining, reflecting, considering options that would be available to us," he said.

He suggested that the organizational study would be a good theme for a public forum that will take place in January, which would allow residents to voice their opinions on the study's suggestions before changes are made.

Other news

- Nybladh said the board also needs to make plans to work with the state Legislature in the next session, in 2011. The North Dakota Commission on Education was focused on K-12 educational adequacy the past two years, but after this spring, changed its focus to higher education and how it interacts with public schooling.

The change is important to pay attention to, he said, because the commission's recommendations to lawmakers are "very powerful." "It may have huge implications to the K-12 system and our district," he said. "We need to be involved."

- The board unanimously voted to hire Terry West as the associate principal at South Middle School. West has worked in the district for the past 12 years and was one of four internal applicants and two external applicants interviewed for the position.

Reach Johnson at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to rjohnson@gfherald.com .

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