DDN cut would hit schools hard, says principalA Hanson School District administrator is concerned a proposed budget reduction to the Dakota Digital Network springs from “poor logic” and could have a large impact on schools across the state.
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
ALEXANDRIA — A Hanson School District administrator is concerned a proposed budget reduction to the Dakota Digital Network springs from “poor logic” and could have a large impact on schools across the state.
One of the budget cuts being considered by the state House Appropriations Committee would eliminate $300,000 from the DDN technology budget, which funds a statewide interactive video communications system used by schools and government officials. The DDN is employed by many districts as an alternative to hiring teachers to instruct students in certain classes.
Kevin Lein, principal of Hanson School in Alexandria, said the cut would seriously disrupt operations at his school. Lein said the school uses the DDN system not only to educate students at the school but to provide the entire curriculum for the Millbrook Colony High School, which graduated 14 students last year.
If the state pulls the $300,000 from the DDN budget, schools would be forced to either cut classes that were formerly taught over DDN or hire teachers to instruct those classes. At Hanson, the proposed DDN cut — coupled with other proposed cuts at the state level — could cost up to $200,000, Lein said.
“That’s a whole lot of money and staffing and I’m not quite sure where we’re going to find it,” Lein said. “Hanson won’t be able to find it.”
At Millbrook, the reduction would likely cause the school to revert back to the days when obtaining a high school education took six years instead of four because of the part-time availability of teachers. Such a situation resulted in “astronomical” costs for the district in terms of travel, faculty and other fees.
“We’re either going to have to go back in time or tell the colony, ‘Sorry, we can’t serve you anymore,’ ” Lein said. “It would be a shame because Millbrook’s been very progressive and a model for the rest of the state’s colonies.”
State Rep. Lance Carson, R-Mitchell, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said he has received more than 300 e-mails on the proposed cut. He doesn’t expect the cut to be addressed until later this month as many legislators are waiting to see if rumors of a payment of between $28 million and $40 million in federal money prove true.
Carson said he is not in favor of the cut.
“I will not support it,” Carson said. “I believe that it’s a very important part of our educational system.”
Some of the e-mails Carson received may have come from Lein’s students, who have joined other educators and state residents in protesting the proposed cuts.
Lein hopes the movement will convince legislators to reject the plan.
“They gave us these tools to use and we’ve utilized them efficiently, effectively and to the maximum. Now, they’re going to take them away from us,” Lein said. “Most of us feel we’re underfunded, but we’re willing to continue on with some of the things that we had. Just don’t take things away from us now.”