Distance Learning Enrollment
BISMARCK – The North Dakota State Senate has passed a bill to allow per pupil funds to follow students enrolling in a virtual school.
Senate Bill 1376 seeks to prohibit school districts from denying enrollment to students for virtual school and allow the per pupil funds to be transferred with the student. The Senate Education Committee gave the bill a tied vote, without recommendation.
“This is a homeschooler that’s open enrolling in a virtual school,” said Sen. Donald Schaible, R-Dis. 31, Mott. “We have not seen virtual schools expand or grow, and I think part of the reason for that is we’re not really convinced that virtual education is as good as we thought it was. It does work for certain instances, but this is a high school that’s completely virtual.”
Schaible was also concerned that the funds from a school district could be transferred to an out-of-state vendor.
“This is another parental rights bill,” said Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Dis. 19, Edinburg. “It does not have a fiscal note. This is public school to public school provision. Thankfully homeschoolers, there’s about 3,800 in our state, are not interested in taking part of this. The reason they homeschool is they don’t want public school input into their children’s education. That’s not the issue here. The issue here is parents want to see an opportunity that’s better for their children.”
Myrdal said the money would stay in North Dakota, and she said there have been dozens of cases where a student wishes to excel beyond the public school and was denied the transfer.
Sen. Michelle Axtman, R-Dis. 7, Bismarck, said the Department of Public Instruction said there will most likely be a fiscal note but is unsure of how much as it would depend on how many homeschoolers, who are currently not counted in the per pupil funding, will transfer to the virtual school. Axtman said most of the testimony in support was from homeschoolers.
The bill passed by a vote of 25 to 22 and if both chambers agree on all amendments it will be sent to the governor for consideration.