January 31, 2016
(This was originally published in the January issue of Umbrella, a monthly publication by the NDCEL.)
Regional Education Associations (REAs) were awarded $68,000 in funding through the Succeed 2020 grant to strengthen their statewide collaboration efforts. REAs have existed in North Dakota since 2001 as a grassroots effort between school districts with the goal of developing a shared services model amongst member schools. Those shared services are currently focused on professional development, technology support services, assistance with achieving school improvement goals, assistance with data collection and analysis, and curriculum enrichment.
REA member schools and the REA Directors recognized in early 2009, the importance of working together to share services on a statewide level too. Shortly after this recognition, the NDREA was loosely formed with the hiring of Dr. Marv Erhardt (formerly with ND Lead Center), on a part-time time basis to facilitate meetings and complete the first NDREA strategic plan. All REAs participated financially to get this work off the ground. Although NDREA was started as a more informal organization, it became quite clear that a shared services model is not only important to school districts, but also to REAs in order to meet their goals.
In the spring of 2015, a new NDREA strategic plan and the complimentary action plan was approved. This strategic plan lays out how all eight REAs can collaborate together to better serve all our member schools. The NDREA strategic plan doesn’t interfere with the work each REA does to meet their own regional goals, but looks to compliment that work.
Once again, the need arose to identify resources to focus on moving priority items in the action plan forward. The Succeed 2020 grant stepped forward and made available funds to jump-start this work. The Building Capacity grant was awarded in December with the focus on these goals: 1) Provide assets for establishing and organizing the structure of NDREA, 2) Build a foundation for a statewide clearinghouse for programs and services, and 3) Bring forth support and develop a legislative agenda which helps the NDREA and each REA sustain the work with member schools.
The grant will support work days for a project director, communications coordinator, statewide travel to present to each REA, statewide meetings for Lead Administrators, and the creation of a new NDREA website. The funding ends August 30th, 2016.