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WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 14, 2013, 09:31 PM

Study shows North Dakota, Minnesota prison funding triple that of education

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV)-- It's been a battle at the state level for years. Some schools are in constant need of financial support. But as we struggle to find enough money to fund our schools.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV)-- It's been a battle at the state level for years.

Some schools are in constant need of financial support. But as we struggle to find enough money to fund our schools.

A new report shows both North Dakota and Minnesota spend almost triple the amount on our prison systems compared to our children. North Dakota is home to 1,561 inmates across the state.

Tim Flakoll-(R) Fargo: "We feed and house and cloth them. And in some cases, we provide education services for them."

And it costs 36 thousand dollars to house each one, every single year. Cut that price by 25 thousand and that's how much we allocate for education per student in North Dakota, just 11 thousand dollars.

Wayne Kazmierczak- Moorhead Assistant Superintendent: "The pie is only so big, so less can go other places like education."

In Minnesota, schools have been leaning heavily on local tax payers to foot the bill.

Kazmierczak:"It is alarming."

While millions in state funds are spent on the 9,452 inmates.

Flakoll: "People do not want drug dealers and addicts out on the streets."

But really, is the comparison fair? No matter what state you're in, convicts or felons, they have to be locked up 24-7 doing hard time.

And class is barely a full seven hours, with an average student-teacher ratio of about 12 to one.

Flakoll: "Part of what we want to do in North Dakota is to make sure that when they come out they have more opportunities for work."

Moorhead's Assistant Superintendent says education is the start to keep kids from ending up in prison.

Kazmierczak:"Because we would see over time a decrease in our spending at the other end."

Local representatives say we're making headway on our education system. This legislative session, law makers okayed a 2.1 billion dollar package for K-12 education in North Dakota.

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