Contact your legislators


LCSD Patrons,

The last time I sent out an update on SB 2328 there was positive news. The bill had just passed the senate 47-0 and we were feeling pretty good about the direction things were going. That was February 13. Fast forward to March 23 and suddenly we find ourselves in a very different situation.

This week, the House Education Committee has discussed SB 2328 and it has not gone well. They have not yet taken a vote, but it does not appear that they will vote in favor of SB 2328 as it is written. The good news is that there is still time to email legislators with your concerns. 

Below, you will find some information on writing emails and testimony. I will be sending out additional updates in the coming days.


Marc Ritteman

SB 2328

Writing your email or testimony

  • 250-500 words is about right
  • Identify something about this issue that you feel particularly strong about and speak from the heart
  • Email your concern to each member of the committee. 
  • If you have any questions about your email or testimony, you can contact me directly at 

Local Representatives

Clayton Fegley -

Lisa Finley-Deville -

House Education Committee Members:

Pat Heinert (Chairman) -

Cynthia Schreiber-Beck -

Liz Conmy -

Scott Dyk -

LaurieBeth Hager -

Dori Hauck -

Jeff Hoverson -

Matt Heilman -

Jim Jonas -

Donald Longmuir -

Andrew Marschall -

Eric Murphy -

Anna Novak -

Kelby Timmons -

Email/Testimony Examples From Teachers

Example 1)

I want to bring to your attention the detrimental effects that will come with our school district having an improper weight scale. As most of you may know, having either come from a small town or have visited one of the many in North Dakota, there is a special kind of unity that each of these communities hold. The unity and togetherness are of the most beautiful qualities that come with a small town. Ones that are cherished by many in North Dakota. With being improperly weighted for our districts funding, it will be the beginning of the dissipation of opportunity that will greatly affect small communities like ours in Berthold and Plaza.

            I come to you as the mom of a future student in our district, a teacher in the community, an alumni of a small town community, and ultimately a voice for the kids. As educators, we act as advocates for our students. That means sometimes having difficult conversations for the betterment of our students. I love speaking in front of 9 and 10-year old students as a 4th grade teacher, but speaking in front of adults in a session like this frightens me. But what frightens me even more, is that our students could possibly have cuts in programs, cuts in technology, a lack of opportunities, and more, which will directly affect our goal in creating lifelong learners.

            Kids in our small community are more than a number in our grade books, they are our neighbors, our relatives, our family friends; they are kids in which we get the pleasure to watch grow up into young adults. The close-knit bond that small communities have is precious and fragile to such travesties like being improperly funded. If our kids cannot get equal opportunity for programs and education due to the lack of funding provided, what is to keep parents from sending their kids to different schools nearby or leaving our community entirely? I realize this is a horrific outcome to talk about, but that’s what it would eventually trickle down to as a direct repercussion of being improperly funded. It’s important to realize what is an unfortunate, yet very realistic future as a result of this situation. It is truly punishing the students for coming from a smaller community with a long district size. This would essentially be sending that message that their education is less important because of their demographic.

The unity between towns (Berthold and Plaza) in our district is one that we have celebrated for many years. However, due to the large distance of 30 miles between our schools, our funding for running the two separate buildings that far apart will need to be weighted properly to reflect that and effectively run both. Our school district and members of our community aren’t asking for more than other school, we are asking to be properly weighted so our school can have the same opportunities that other schools have. It’s all about making sure that every student, regardless of their district and community size, be given an equal opportunity to learn and grow in school. As educators, one of the pillars we base teaching off of is that not every student learns the same so we must differentiate to give all an equal opportunity to learn. The same reflects with our funding. What it may take to run a district of our lengthy size and separate locations will be different than what it may take for another school district with a smaller proximity to run. Please consider adjusting our school’s weight system so that it may reflect a proper funding that will give our students equal opportunity to learn. Thank you.

Example 2)

As an educator, stakeholder, parent, and alumni who grew up in rural North Dakota it is imperative to support equal opportunities for all students, regardless of where they live. I have the pleasure to be an educator within the Lewis and Clark school district in which my children reside for their education. I am proud to be able to give them the small-town community culture that my family has known their whole life. There are immeasurable values that come from knowing each and every one of your students and having your communities be supportive and involved. I am writing this testimony as an advocate for all students.

Rural areas often face unequal challenges when it comes to providing quality education, including a lack of funding, limited resources, and small district sizes.

Addressing these challenges allows to allocate funding based on a district size weighting factor, which considers specific needs of smaller, rural districts. This can help ensure that our district receives adequate funding to provide our students with the resources they need to be successful.

It’s important to acknowledge that an adequate and equitable education to all students is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted solution. By working together, educators, parents, and policymakers can help ensure that every student, regardless of their geography, have access to the resources and opportunities they need for a high-quality education that prepares them for the future.

Examples from some of my previous emails and testimony

 Chairman Elkin and Members of the Senate Education Committee,  

 For the record my name is Marc Ritteman. I am the superintendent of the Lewis and Clark School District, which is comprised of two K-12 schools located 30 miles apart: one in Berthold and one in Plaza. I am here today to speak in favor of the provision in Senate Bill 2328 that calls for funding districts with separate and distant schools based on the enrollment of each facility, rather than the enrollment of the district. 

 One the most important components of the formula that ensures adequacy and equity is the district size weighting factor adjustment. The legislature has recognized that “smaller school districts do not benefit from the [same] economies of scale [as] larger school districts” and are less efficient. District size weighting factors exist to account for this inefficiency and ensure small and large districts are funded at a level that leads to an adequate and equitable education for all students. 

 We strongly support the district size weighting factor adjustment, but unfortunately we also believe there is a flaw in the formula. It does not account for districts like ours that operate separate schools a great distance apart. Our district has about 400 students with about 200 at each school. The formula assumes we can operate as efficiently as a district with 400 students in the same facility and does not take into account the 30 miles do share some staff and resources, the distance makes it impossible to create the same efficiencies we would see if we were in the same building. 

 Funding the Lewis and Clark School District based on the individual enrollment of our separate schools would enable us to provide an adequate and equitable education for our kids. Up until this point, our transition minimum payment and increased local taxes have filled the void. Once transition minimum payments are eliminated completely, we will be left with a funding gap that cannot be filled to a level that is adequate and equitable. 

 We understand that transition minimums do not factor into the adequacy and equity equation, but their elimination has revealed a flaw in the district size weighting factor adjustment that hurts districts with separate and distant schools. That concludes my testimony. I will stand for questions. 


Marc Ritteman, Supt. 

Lewis and Clark School District 

Dear Senator Elkin and Senator Schaible, 

 I appreciate your efforts at creating a great funding bill for North Dakota public education. That said, I was disappointed that SB 2284 does not currently address district size weighting factors. The Lewis and Clark School District operates schools in Berthold and Plaza. At 30 miles apart, our two K-12 buildings cannot be as efficient as a district will all students in one community.  

 For the 2022-23 school year, we were funded based on the separate enrollments of Berthold and Plaza. Each school has an enrollment of about 200, so our district size weighting factor was 1.24.  If we use the total of the two schools, our size weighting factor will shrink to 1.02 and our state aid will be reduced by about a million dollars. 


 Berthold and Plaza should not have the same district size weighting factor as Carrington and Rugby.  We are being hurt because we chose to consolidate in 2003 when doing so was incentivized by the state. Like I mentioned in my email below, we have reduced costs significantly as a result of the consolidation. We share multiple staff and resources, we've reduced administrative costs, and we have gone from four schools to two. 

 Our district's situation is very unique. Only TGU and North Border are similar. Addressing this issue is not just good for three districts. It's an incentive for districts to consolidate even if they have to maintain more than one facility. In the long run, this saves money for North Dakota taxpayers because smaller schools can be more efficient when they are consolidated under a single district umbrella. It also keeps these same schools open, which is so important to the health and vitality of rural North Dakota communities. 

I would love to sit down and talk about this issue. I can be in Bismarck any day or time that is convenient for both/either of you. Thanks again for all you are doing for education.


Marc Ritteman, Supt

Dear Senator Kannianen, Rep. Fegley, and Rep. Finley-Deville,

 SB 2328 received a 5-1 Do Pass recommendation from the Senate Education Committee and now moves on to Appropriations. This bill is not only good for our district, but also a step in the right direction for all North Dakota schools looking to become more efficient. The current funding formula disincentivizes consolidation. If this formula existed twenty years ago, it is unlikely the Lewis and Clark District would have been formed despite the possible cost savings. 

 In 2003, three school districts, North Shore, Berthold, and Plaza consolidated to form the Lewis and Clark School District.  Efficiencies were created and money was saved because of the consolidation. The current enrollment of North Shore Plaza is around 200 and the current enrollment in Berthold is around 190. According the most recent version of the DPI’s Finance Facts, there are 51 districts with 200 students or fewer. The Lewis and Clark District has a lower average per pupil cost than 49 of them. There are 44 schools with an enrollment of 390 or greater including Lewis and Clark. LCSD ranks 34th with an average per pupil cost of $13,630. The 33 districts in front of LCSD have an average per pupil cost of $11,524.  

 So even though we are extremely efficient when compared to districts with 200 or fewer students per building (like us), we still cannot be as efficient as districts with all students located in the same community and/or building (not like us, but how we are funded). Passage of SB 2328 would encourage districts to consolidate even if they had to maintain more than one facility. In the long run, this saves money for North Dakota taxpayers because smaller schools can be more efficient when they are consolidated under a single district umbrella. It also keeps these same schools open, which is so important to the health and vitality of rural North Dakota communities.

We appreciate any support you could give us on this bill. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Dear Senator Kannianen, Rep. Fegley, and Rep. Finley-Deville

I know all of you are very busy, so I appreciate any time and thought you are able to devote to this issue.

The information below shows how crucial it is that something is done about our district size weighting factor. As it stands, we will lose around a million dollars in state aid if the formula doesn't get amended. This is because the formula treats us as a large district similar to Carrington and Rugby when we are much more similar to Underwood and Glenburn in how our facilities operate. 

This wasn't a dire issue until the legislature voted to end transition minimum payments last session. The $600,000-$700,000 transition minimum payment we received greatly minimized the impact of the school size weighting factor inequity. Transition payments are being reduced by 15% each year (45% total reduction next year) and are set to expire completely in 2027.

Cutting $1,000,000 from a $7,000,000 budget during times of inflation is impossible without greatly diminishing our ability to provide an education on par with other North Dakota schools. We cannot eliminate enough staff in the short term and stop buying buses and computers indefinitely to make up the difference.

If you would like to discuss this issue further, I am available any time. 



Marc Ritteman, Supt.

Lewis and Clark School District

Berthold and Plaza, North Dakota