BISMARCK, N.D., July 31, 2023 -- State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler says more than $4 million in new grant support will strengthen North Dakota’s efforts to help classroom paraprofessionals become full-fledged teachers, at a time when many schools have been scrambling to find instructors.
The money will provide tuition assistance, on-the-job training and teaching pay for classroom aides who want to get the academic credentials they need to become licensed teachers.
The NDDPI must get permission from the state Emergency Commission, which reviews agency requests for interim spending, before the federal grants may be used. The North Dakota Legislature has already provided $3 million for the teacher apprenticeship program, which became available July 1. The NDDPI is seeking agreements with North Dakota colleges and universities to implement the initiative.
Baesler said North Dakota is the only state that plans to use the Labor Department grant funds exclusively to support teacher apprenticeships. Of the $4.031 million, North Dakota was awarded $3.72 million as part of a competitive process in which only seven states received funds.
Earlier in July, North Dakota also became the first state to gain federal approval to include aspiring school administrators in its apprenticeship initiative. The Department of Public Instruction awarded North Dakota State University a $150,000 competitive grant to defray tuition costs for assistant principals who want to earn a master’s degree in school leadership, which is a prerequisite for advancement as a school administrator.
Baesler said the NDDPI intends to pursue federal grants for the principal apprenticeship program once funds become available. “Our achievement in winning approval for principal apprenticeships can unlock federal support and clear the way for other states who want to join this effort,” Baesler said.
The state Emergency Commission’s next meeting is Sept. 7. The commission’s members are Gov. Doug Burgum; Secretary of State Michael Howe; the state House and Senate’s majority leaders, Rep. Mike Lefor, R-Dickinson, and Sen. David Hogue, R-Minot; and the chairmen of the House and Senate appropriations committees, Rep. Don Vigesaa, R-Cooperstown, and Sen. Brad Bekkedahl, R-Williston.