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District plans summer school

The Bismarck Board of Education approved a limited summer school program for 2018 when it met in regular session Thursday night.

Superintendent Jason King explained to the board that it is financially impossible for the school district to offer a full-blown summer school program like it did up until last summer.

“A couple of years ago our school district became what is known as a ‘hold harmless’ district and when you become hold harmless in the state of Missouri, you become that because your enrollment over a sustained period of time has continued to drop,” he said. “The state says you are held harmless and that means your funding will not drop below a certain level as long as you have that status.

“That’s a great thing, but the downside to that is summer school no longer generates any money at all whatsoever. Years ago, summer school double-funded kids. If I came to summer school years ago, I counted as two kids for funding. That changed to just one kid for funding, which is OK, but if you are hold harmless now it doesn’t count for anything.”

According to King, if the school were to hold a large summer school program as it has in years past while under its current status, he estimates that it would cost the district $106,000.

“Years ago, summer school at Bismarck was fantastic because it was good for the kids, the teachers were able to make summer school money and the school would make $4,000-$5,000 or break even,” he said. “As long as it’s a break-even proposition, then it is certainly financially feasible, but when you are hold harmless, it simply is not.”

King proposed to the board that the school district hold summer school for junior and senior high students from 8 a.m. to noon May 21 through June 12 for secondary credit recovery and attendance recovery only. There will be limited bus pick-ups and drop offs at the entrance of Iron Mountain Lake and Lake Hanna.

“I would love if something changes to be able offer a full one again because it is a good thing,” he said. “We need to have a lot of kids come in before we can do that — and I mean a lot.”

Regarding student enrollment this year, King noted that the district has seen a lot of ups and downs again this year.

“We have been up to as many as 519 at the beginning of the year and we’re sitting at 487 right now,” he said. “Those numbers continue to be concerning. They fluctuate – changes every day by one or two – and there’s days when it will go up by four or five and then maybe drop by three.

“This is becoming more and more the norm. So many people are transient and moving out. We’ll usually see them again, which is kind of strange. You know, they’ll come back and then move out again and then come back again – and there doesn’t seem to be a real rhyme or reason for it.

“If we add the pre-K numbers to it, we’re at 507. That’s compared to the previous year when we were looking at 523 – and that was including pre-K. We just want to watch that closely, I think the good thing is that it is bouncing up and down overall and not just staying in a continuous drop. There are other area schools that are experiencing the same thing.”

In other action, the board approved the annual report on guidance and counseling, policy updates and the substitute teacher list. Recognized as students of the month were Sydney Conway and Ashley Turner. Staff member of the quarter was Karen Knowles. Also recognized was long-time crossing guard Noah Meade who has kept district children safe for 24 years.

Next month’s board meeting is set for 7 p.m. April 12 in the elementary library.

“Years ago, summer school at Bismarck was fantastic because it was good for the kids, the teachers were able to make summer school money and the school would make $4,000-$5,000 or break even.” — Supt. Jason King

Bismarck Superintendent Jason King presents a plaque to Noah Meade for his 24 years of service as crossing guard for the school district. The presentation was made at the board of education's meeting Thursday.

Bismarck Superintendent Jason King presents a plaque to Noah Meade for his 24 years of service as crossing guard for the school district. The presentation was made at the board of education’s meeting Thursday.

Bismarck Superintendent Jason King goes over attendance figures during Thursday's meeting of the board of education. He described the current state of enrollment as

Bismarck Superintendent Jason King goes over attendance figures during Thursday’s meeting of the board of education. He described the current state of enrollment as “fluctuating.”

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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