District sees benefit from cooperative
By Chris Erickson
A decade’s worth of involvement in a regional cooperative has yielded a lot of positive outcomes for Beulah Public Schools. Recently, the school district has seen a few of those benefits from the Missouri River Educational Cooperative, most notably with a trip to state competition and a presentation about impaired consequences.
The MRECs mission is to “provide the best educational opportunities to its member students, delivered in the most economical fashion.” According to the agency’s chief and local representatives, the partnership is one of which to be proud.
MREC Executive Director Lyle Krueger said the agency is one of eight regional education agencies in the state, each with a growing capacity to assist its member districts with individual needs.
“Through that process, each of the REAs is working more collaboratively with one another in order to again create programs [and] services that districts may want or need in a more efficient and economical manner,” Krueger said. “By the REAs working together statewide, it creates efficiencies that then can be passed on to our member districts.”
According to Krueger, the agency’s governing area was split into four geographical sections, larger member districts of Bismarck and Mandan, and small, rural elementary schools of Menoken, Sweet Briar, Naughton, Manning, Little Heart, Sterling and Apple Creek.
From Beulah, both Superintendent Todd Kaylor and Board of Education Director Jennifer Steffan had a seat at the MREC table -- Kaylor with the Administrator Cabinet, and Steffan as the School Board Representative from the Northwest District.
Including Beulah, the Northwest District is made up of Hazen, Center-Stanton, and New Salem. Thirty-eight total schools in central North Dakota are included in the cooperative. Overall, while private schools were included as collaborating partners and may receive the same services as public entities, state law allows only public school district representatives to serve as voting members.
Beulah’s 10-year involvement with the MREC has definitely proved beneficial. Steffan said the agency has provided the Beulah School District the ability to offer classes that would otherwise not be feasible due to cost as well as the size and location of the school.
“The list of classes being offered for 2015/2016 include aviation, graphic design and photography, electronics technology, information technology, geographic information systems, and medical terminology, to name a few,” Steffan said. “The MREC also provides high quality professional development opportunities for staff at a lower cost due to pooling of resources. The MREC supports STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] activities and a Scrubs [health care careers] camp that our students have the opportunity to take part in. N.D. REAs also represent their member schools by being a voice and lobbying at the N.D. Legislature for what is in the best interest of N.D. students and education in N.D.”
According to Krueger, the MREC serves as an assistive agency, meaning it cannot mandate activities or events. Schools within the cooperative have the ability to participate in any program they desire and/or for which they qualify. For example, although the cooperative provides an after-school program, it is funded through a 21st Century Learning Center grant that requires participating schools to have a 40 percent free or reduced lunch status to qualify. Beulah does not.
Krueger said the initiatives that Beulah Public Schools is the most involved with are the STEM Program, career and technical education courses, and professional development training.
The STEM Program was offered at no cost for Beulah. According to Krueger, it was offered through the Succeed 2020 Initiative grant. The STEM Program recently saw success again as the Beulah Middle School science team qualified again for the state competition (see Science Olympiad, page 7).
The CTE courses are offered through the Missouri River Area Career and Technical Center via online and ITV delivery options. For that program there is a base fee plus a per-pupil cost for each student registered in the course.
The professional development is offered both on- and off-site for administrators and teachers. Cost is deteremined by the number of days, number of trainers, and number of participants.