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February05

Reps support two #sdedu bills

Representatives sent two #sdedu bills across the aisle on Wednesday.

 

The House passed House Bill 1097, which allows certain school districts meeting specific criteria to remain open despite dropping below the 100 student enrollment threshold, on a 68-1 vote.

 

Rep. Fred Deutsch introduced the bill in response to the Big Stone City School District’s recent dip below the 100-student threshold. Rep. Deutsch said BSC is only K-8 – one of two schools in S.D. – and the under-100 threshold applies to K-12 districts.

 

HB 1097 would add the following criteria to state law:

 

“For any school district that does not operate a high school and contracts with an adjoining school district in Minnesota to educate its resident high school students, the minimum fall enrollment that the school district must maintain pursuant to this section is not one hundred, but rather is equal to a pro-rated share of one hundred based upon the number of grades offered within the school district.”

 

Rep. Deutsch said the bill would apply the enrollment threshold to BSC in “a proportional manner,” which would set the level at approximately 69 students.

 

During HB 1097’s committee hearing, it was noted the BSC district serves 34 students open enrolled from Minnesota it cannot count in its fall enrollment tally.

 

ASBSD is monitoring the bill.

 

Representatives also passed a proposal that would establish and fund a program to recruit and retain teachers for rural school districts.

 

On a 65-4 vote, House Bill 1092 advanced to the Senate, still with the $1 placeholder funding attached to it. The bill was initially introduced with $1.5 million committed to the program.

 

Rep. Thomas Holmes, the bill’s prime sponsor, said HB 1092 “would go some distance to alleviate” the teacher shortage in rural districts.

 

House Bill 1092 encourages individuals working as paraprofessionals in school districts with 600 or fewer students enrolled and at least one teaching position unfilled the previous year to enroll in a post-secondary program, earn a bachelor’s degree in education and return to the district to teach.

 

Rep. Ray Ring said he had “no problem with trying to encourage more people to become teachers,” but thought the bill could use some tweaking, especially in the area of funding.

 

“Appropriating (dollars) out of the general fund into a trust fund and then spending interest out of that (fund) doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” Rep. Ring said.

 

Alas, the bill advanced with the hope dollars could be found to fund the program.

 

“(Let’s) see if we can find some ways to find some money…and get teachers to rural areas,” Rep. Brian Gosch, the House Majority Leader, said.

 

ASBSD supports the bill. For updates on HB 1097 and 1092, check the ASBSD Blog and Bill Tracker page.

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