The first step in adding a new provision to the under-100 enrollment threshold for school districts was taken on Friday (1/30).
House Education committee members unanimously approved House Bill 1097, which allows certain school districts meeting specific criteria to remain open despite dropping below the 100 student enrollment threshold.
Rep. Fred Deutsch, the bill’s main sponsor, introduced HB 1097 in response to Big Stone City School District having its enrollment dip under 100 students and, based on state law, would be required to close.
HB 1097 would add the following criteria to state law:
“For any school district that does not operate a high school and contracts with an adjoining school district in Minnesota to educate its resident high school students, the minimum fall enrollment that the school district must maintain pursuant to this section is not one hundred, but rather is equal to a pro-rated share of one hundred based upon the number of grades offered within the school district.”
Rep. Deutsch said BSC is a K-8 school district – one of two in the state – and sends its resident students to either the Milbank High School, located in South Dakota, or Ortonville High School, located in Minnesota.
He noted the pro-rated share of students would be set at approximately 69 students, which BSC would qualify for.
Rep. John Wiik, a resident of Big Stone and parent of children who attend the school, said the district has 34 students open enrolled from Minnesota the district can’t count towards its enrollment.
“We (BSC) are responsible for the education of over a hundred students we cannot count,” Rep. Wiik testified.
Committee members lauded the merits of the bill and of small school districts.
“We need to keep the small schools intact,” Rep. Larry Zikmund said. “They’re part of our state.”
ASBSD is monitoring the bill.
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