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February01

Week ends on high note for K-12

Four bills with ties to K-12 education received passing votes on Thursday.

 

Senate Bill 96 passed on 25-9 vote through the Senate. The bill would allow school districts with an enrollment under 100 to remain open, if they are exercising joint powers or intergovernmental cooperation in education.

 

“The bill presents a really positive option for K-12 education,” Executive Director Wade Pogany said. “It allows smaller school districts to keep their doors open and all districts the chance to collaborate with each other and offer students options they may not have had before.”

 

Joint powers agreements allow any number of school districts in the agreement to share services and costs. Districts could share teachers, courses or curriculums among other services while students remain in their home district.

 

Senate Education committee members advanced two positive bills. Senate Bill 159, which provides school districts with a 25 percent bump in state aid for each Limited English Proficiency student, passed on a 7-0 vote.

 

“This bill is essential to our school districts with Limited English Proficiency students,” Pogany said. “This is a growing group in South Dakota schools and there’s a necessary extra effort to get them up to speed and keep them on track with their fellow students.”

 

Along with SB 159, committee members unanimously passed House Bill 1064. The bill allows school districts to implement flexible spending accounts as part of health insurance plans. It now makes its way to the Senate floor and, if passed, on to the governor.

 

House Bill 1239, which authorizes school districts, if they so choose, to increase certain tax levies for pension and health insurance purposes, passed House Taxation in an 8-5 vote.

 

The bill allows districts to levy a tax of 40 cents per thousand dollars of taxable valuation. Funds collected from the levy can only be used for pension and health insurance purposes.

 

“Average healthcare premiums are going up for school districts and this gives districts the flexibility to help offset those costs if needed,” Pogany said.

 

ASBSD supports each bill. Continue to monitor the progress of these bills by checking the ASBSD blog and bill tracker.

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