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September24

School funding committee meets for third time

A school district’s decisions to opt-out or utilize capital outlay flexibility to help supplement their general fund were the final subjects up for analysis by the legislative interim committee on school funding at a meeting Monday (Sept. 23) in Pierre.

 

Yesterday’s meeting was the third for committee members charged with studying how the state’s school funding formula affects a district’s decision to seek an opt-out or utilize special tax levies, funding’s effect on graduation and technology’s relation to teaching.

 

Testimony from a variety of public school officials took center stage in the committee room. Eight administrators shared their district’s funding situation and challenges, along with 18 additional narratives from districts around the state submitted to the committee prior to the meeting by ASBSD and SASD.

 

A recurring theme in the testimony and discussion was the dwindling pool of teaching candidates, which many attributed to a lack of competitive salary options.

 

“School boards are having more and more to turn their limited funds into solutions for salaries and healthcare,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany testified.

 

One solution proposed to help with funding challenges was an increase to the per-student allocation of approximately 3.8 percent for the 2014-15 school year, which would put it at $4,805 per student.

 

The figure would mark a return to the highpoint of the PSA and a step towards alleviation of funding issues.

 

“We should get K-12 education back (to its high point). Hopefully, we can have that conversation,” Pogany said. “We’ve got to have (dollars) consistent that our schools can plan for.”

 

The committee is scheduled to meet again on Monday, Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. in Pierre.

 

Check the ASBSD Blog throughout the week for more from Monday’s committee meeting.

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