Continued collaboration between the Air Force and Grand Forks Public Schools


Joe Banish

Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — During a joint meeting on Monday night between Air Force personnel and the Grand Forks Public School Board, Grand Force Air Force Base’s wing commander spoke of the vital relationship between the two entities.

Col. Timothy Curry, commander of the base’s 319th Reconnaissance Wing, said the district plays an important role in educating children of Air Force personnel.

“We often don’t connect the dots in terms of your impact and influence on these students,” Curry said while addressing the board. “Chances are, many children of those in uniform are going to transition into the military. So you are caring for national defense from that standpoint when you help these students transition into their next assignment.”

Curry also referenced educational opportunities for the district’s students, particularly in the STEM fields, through the base’s North Spark Defense Lab. According to Curry, educating students in these subjects is critical to the future of national defense.

“When we look at our mission set, and the technical skills associated with it, clearly there’s an opportunity for collaboration,” said Curry. “When you think about where we’re going in the future, what type of development we need for our kids, and what type of people we want to be attracting from a military standpoint from your schools, the requirements are changing.”

Also during Monday’s meeting, Brenda Lewis, assistant superintendent for elementary education, presented the district’s annual report from 2021-22. Student enrollment of 7,248 pupils was down by 24 students from the year prior, and the number of overall teachers in the district decreased from 685 to 675.

Lewis said gains in student proficiency, measured by the North Dakota State Assessment, have been marked. She stated proficiency levels for those enrolled in an individualized education plan, a program designed to assist students suffering with learning disabilities, have more than doubled in the past year.

“In 2021,11% of students served by an IEP were at or above proficiency,” said Lewis. “That figure jumped to 24% in the spring 2022 assessment. This increase is unprecedented. I am so proud of this data.”

In other School Board news:

* The board approved an agreement with the Dietrich company to provide student busing through the 2022-23 school year. Contained within this agreement is a stipulation allowing Dietrich to hire and compensate Cities Area Transit drivers in order to cope with the driver shortage affecting the district.

* The board discussed a proposed Advanced Placement AB physics course to be offered at the high school level. According to Catherine Gillach, associate superintendent of secondary education, other districts in the state offer the course, and Grand Forks students have been petitioning for it.

* The board approved the district’s general fund financial statement for the months of July through October 2022, representing the first four months of fiscal year 2022-23. According to Brandon Baumbach, the district’s business manager, total general fund revenues during this period were $27,829,416, with expenditures at $26,783,755, resulting in a surplus of $1,045,661.


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