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March04

House Ed. comm. passes financial incentives and minor boundary change bills

House Education committee members pass two bills in their last scheduled meeting of the legislative session.

 

After deferring action on Senate Bill 132 at last Friday’s committee meeting, the group passed the bill on an 11-3 vote on Wednesday.

 

SB 132 would allow districts leeway to offer a signing bonus, moving expenses, or tuition reimbursement to a teacher employed in the school district. ASBSD supports the bill.

 

“The premise of the bill is (school boards are) having trouble finding teachers,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said. “All I’m asking is to give us a couple of tools we can use.”

 

At last week’s bill hearing Pogany said the bill would not take away the negotiating rights of teachers, but rather is a “creative way” for school boards to attract and retain teachers, which with the shrinking teacher pool, has become increasingly difficult.

 

On Wednesday Pogany shared with committee members that there are 150 more open teaching positions being advertised on ASBSD’s Teacher Placement Center than there were at this time last year.

 

The South Dakota Education Association joined ASBSD, the School Administrators of South Dakota and the Department of Education in support of SB 132.

 

Senate Bill 134, which proposes a one year moratorium on minor boundary changes in a school district and the creation of a legislative task force to study the process, was also passed by the committee.

 

Introduced as a hoghouse amendment, proponents of the bill say it’s time for legislative review of the increasingly contentious issue.

 

“It’s not an easy process, but it’s a process that does happen,” Rep. Herman Otten, who last year championed a bill updating the process of the minor boundary change, said.

 

“It’s time to stand back and look at the situation and see if we can find a better process.”

 

Rep. Otten noted the task force would not review school district reorganization as part of the study.

 

Committee members approved an amendment to the bill clarifying funding of the study would not be drawn from the legislature, but rather provided from the Governor’s office or Department of Education. ASBSD is monitoring the bill.

 

There were no opponents to SB 134, which, along with SB 132, move to the House floor for review and vote.

 

For updates on the bills, check the ASBSD BlogBill Tracker page and Twitter feed.

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