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Bismarck Public Schools, North Dakota

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Bismarck Public Schools
Bismarck, North Dakota
Bismarck Public Schools logo.jpg
District Profile
Superintendent:Tamara Uselman
Graduation rate:86.8%[2]
Number of schools:22
Budget: $130 million
Website:School Home Page
Board of Education
Board president:Matthew Sagsveen
Board members:5
Term length:4
Bismarck Public Schools is a school district in North Dakota that served 11,017 students during the 2010-2011 school year. The district dates back to 1883 with the graduating class of 1887 consisting of two students. Two new schools are currently under construction with Liberty Elementary slated for an August 2014 opening and Legacy High School scheduled to open in August 2015.[3] The district's graduation rate declined slightly from 86.9% in 2010 to 86.8% in 2012.[2] Bismarck Public Schools is the largest school district in North Dakota.

About the district

Bismarck Public Schools is located in Burleigh County, North Dakota
Bismarck Public Schools is located in Bismarck, North Dakota, the county seat of Burleigh County. According to the United States Census Bureau, Bismarck is home to 64,751 residents.[4]


Bismarck outperformed in comparison to the rest of North Dakota in terms of higher education achievement in 2010. The United States Census Bureau found that 33.5 percent of Bismarck residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 27.1 percent for North Dakota as a whole. The median household income in Bismarck was $53,186 compared to $51,641 for the state of North Dakota. The poverty rate in Bismarck was 9.7 percent compared to 12.1 percent for the entire state.[4]

Racial Demographics, 2010[4]
Race Bismarck (%) North Dakota (%)
White 92.4 90.0
Black or African American 0.7 1.2
American Indian and Alaska Native 4.5 5.4
Asian 0.6 1.0
Two or More Races 1.5 1.8
Hispanic or Latino 1.3 2.0

Presidential votes[5]
Year Democratic vote (%) Republican vote (%)
2012 41.4 57.1
2008 43.7 55.4

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[6] This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.


The superintendent of Bismarck Public Schools is Tamara Uselman as of April 15, 2014. She has served in the position since her appointment in 2011. Uselman previously served as the superintendent of Perham School District in Minnesota from 2003 to 2011.[7][8]

School board

The Bismarck School Board consists of five members elected at-large to four-year terms. Each board member receives $400 per month along with reimbursement for expenses accrued during district business.[9]

Bismarck School Board
Member Assumed Office Term Ends
Matthew Sagsveen 2010 2014
Heidi Delorme 2012 2016
Scott Halvorson 2010 2014
Lawrence King 2008 2016
Steve Marquardt 2006 2014

School board elections

See also: Bismarck Public Schools elections (2014)

Members of the School Board are elected to four-year terms on a staggered basis. Three seats were up for election on June 10, 2014 and two seats will be on the ballot in June 2016.

Public participation in board meetings

The School Board maintains the following policy related to public participation in board meetings last updated in 1994:

All regular and special meetings of the Board shall be open to the public unless the Board is meeting in executive session as allowed by law. So that the Board may hear the viewpoints of citizens throughout the district, and also conduct its business in an orderly and efficient manner, it shall schedule one or more periods of a specified length of time during each meeting for brief comments and questions from the public.

The Board prefers that members of the public wishing to make formal presentations before the Board make arrangements in advance with the Superintendent of Board president whenever possible, so that such presentations may be scheduled on the agenda.

Comments and questions at a regular meeting may relate with any topic concerned with the Board's conduct of the schools. Comments at special meetings can only deal with the call of the meeting.

Speakers may offer criticisms of the school operations and programs, but during a meeting, the Board will not hear personal complaints against any person connected with the school system. The Board may question speakers to clarify concerns but, as a general rule, will not debate such concerns until the Superintendent has presented a position statement at a subsequent Board meeting. Those who speak are urged to limit their remarks to a maximum of five minutes. Any group addressing a common concern should designate a spokesperson.


—Bismarck Public Schools website, (2014), [11]


Bismarck Public Schools published its annual budget on its website.[12][13]

Expenditures by Category
School Year Staff Expenses Student Services Operational Expenses Debt Service Other Budget Total
Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget
2011-2012 $97,697,197 85.3% $6,060,532 5.3% $9,545,555 8.3% $1,128,647 1% $109,182 0.1% $114,541,113
2013-2014 $108,961,806 83.8% $5,818,021 4.5% $14,933,020 11.5% $0 0% $302,900 0.2% $130,015,747
Averages: $103,329,501.5 85% $5,939,276.5 5% $12,239,287.5 10% $564,323.5 0% $206,041 0% $122,278,430

Teacher salaries

Teacher salaries at Bismarck Public Schools are categorized based on higher education achievement and years of service. A teacher with a bachelor's degree can earn higher salaries by pursuing graduate degrees. The salary schedule also accounts for graduate degrees by providing higher starting salaries and greater potential salaries. The following table lists salaries for district teachers during the 2013-2014 school year:[14]

Salary structure
Degree level Minimum salary ($) Maximum salary ($)
B.A. 40,170 46,706
B.A. + 15 41,921 52,092
B.A. + 30 43,260 58,228
B.A. + 45 44,084 67,841
MA 45,732 72,644
MA + 15 47,071 73,842
MA + 30 48,101 75,040
MA + 45 49,337 76,235
MA + 60 50,161 77,435

Schools in Bismarck Public Schools


Bismarck Public Schools served 11,017 students during the 2010-11 school year.[1]

District schools

The district operates 22 K-12 schools listed below in alphabetical order:[15]

Bismarck Public Schools
Bismarck High School
Centennial Elementary School
Century High School
Grimsrud Elementary School
Highland Acres Elementary School
Horizon Middle School
Lincoln Elementary School
Miller Elementary School
Moses Elementary School
Murphy Elementary School
Myhre Elementary School
Northridge Elementary School
Pioneer Elementary School
Prairie Rose Elementary School
Roosevelt Elementary School
Saxvik Elementary School
Simle Middle School
Solheim Elementary School
South Central High School
Sunrise Elementary School
Wachter Middle School
Will-Moore Elementary School

Academic performance

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction conducts annual testing to determine student proficiency in reading and math. Each district receives an annual report card comparing annual testing performance with benchmarks established by state education officials to comply with federal standards under the No Child Left Behind Act. The annual report also assesses whether a district has met the state's benchmarks for attendance and graduation rates.

Bismarck Public Schools did not meet the state's Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) goals for the 2012-2013 school year. The state report card found that district students achieved a 93% attendance rate compared to the state benchmark of 95%. The district's 86.8% graduation rate fell below the state goal of 89%. The table below detail district performance on math and reading tests during the 2012-2013 school year:[16]

District Reading Scores, 2012-2013
Category State goal (%) District result (%)
Economically disadvantaged 89.1 64.9
White 89.1 79.9
Native American 89.0 58.4
Black 89.0 71.4
Asian 89.1 79.3
Hispanic 89.1 70.6
Students with disabilities 89.1 56.3
Students with limited English proficiency 89.0 41.8
Total 89.1 78.4

District Math Scores, 2012-2013
Category State goal (%) District result (%)
Economically disadvantaged 83.5 64.6
White 83.5 81.0
Native American 83.5 57.0
Black 83.5 67.8
Asian 83.5 84.4
Hispanic 83.5 69.7
Students with disabilities 83.5 53.3
Students with limited English proficiency 83.5 50.0
Total 83.5 79.1


Sex abuse case against former teacher

Former Wachter Middle School teacher Susan Duursma faces felony solicitation of minor charges in Burleigh County based on alleged actions between March and July 2013. Duursma is accused of engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year old student. She was placed on unpaid leave in November 2013 and resigned from the district in February 2014. Duursma's attorneys seek to dismiss charges because a recording made by the student and his friends of an encounter was illegal without Duursma's permission. The defense has also asked the court to move the trial out of Burleigh County due to extensive media coverage of the story. A three-day trial is scheduled for May 2014.[17]

Contact information

Bismarck Public Schools logo.jpg
Bismarck Public Schools
806 North Washington Street
Bismarck, ND 58501
Phone: (701) 323-4000

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed April 11, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, "Graduation," accessed April 15, 2014
  3. Bismarck Public Schools, "About Bismarck," accessed April 15, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 United States Census Bureau, "Bismarck, North Dakota," accessed April 11, 2014
  5. Burleigh County Elections, "Elections," accessed April 11, 2014
  6. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  7. Bismarck Public Schools, "Administration," accessed April 15, 2014
  8. Michelle Farnsworth, Great Plains Examiner, "Uselman takes over Bismarck schools at critical time," September 25, 2011
  9. Bismarck Public Schools, "Board Member Compensation and Expenses," January 26, 2004
  10. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  11. Bismarck Public Schools, "Public Participation at Board Meetings," October 24, 1994
  12. Bismarck Public Schools, "Bismarck Public SchoolsFISCAL YEAR: 2011-12," accessed December 11, 2013
  13. Bismark Public Schools, "School Focus: 2013-2014 Annual Report," accessed December 10, 2014
  14. Bismarck Public Schools, "2013-2014 Salary Schedule," accessed April 17, 2014
  15. Bismarck Public Schools, "District Schools Information," accessed April 15, 2014
  16. North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, "Annual Adequate Yearly Progress Report," May 5, 2013
  17. Jenny Michael, The Bismarck Tribune, "Prosecutors want Bismarck teacher sex case to go to trial," March 27, 2014