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January14

What’s ahead for the 2014 legislative session

Business is about to pick up in Pierre.

 

South Dakota’s 89th Legislative Session begins next week and the 38 day term will feature key K-12 education topics that will shape the future of our schools.

 

“This is going to be a big year for our school districts,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said. “There’s going to be important discussions about funding, Common Core, teacher pay and many other education issues.”

 

“We may not win all the battles, but we need to make sure our legislators know the needs of our school districts.”

 

ASBSD’s legislative platform was established at Delegate Assembly when representatives from member districts voted on the association’s legislative resolutions and standing positions.

 

Where It Starts

 

The key discussions about K-12 education legislation will start in the meeting rooms of the House Appropriations and Education and Senate Appropriations and Education committees.

 

Those four committees will feature most of the important pieces of legislation that will impact school districts. If you have a legislator on any of those committees (click the links above to see committee rosters), get in touch with them and share your district’s needs.

 

“The education committees will shape education initiatives and really delve into the needs of our schools,” Pogany said. “And, the appropriations committees address the dollars. They’ll play a significant role in the future of K-12 funding.”

 

House appropriations is scheduled to meet Monday-Friday at 8 a.m., House Education on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:45 a.m., Senate Appropriations meets Monday-Friday at 8 a.m. and Senate Education on Tuesday and Thursday at 7:45 a.m.

 

In addition to those four committees, House and Senate Local Government, State Affairs and Taxation committees will hold hearings on legislation related to school boards and education.

 

What We Know

 

Currently, five bills have been filed which originated from the legislative interim study on education funding:

 

HB 1001 – Gradually reduces the percentage of capital outlay funds that school districts may use for certain expenses over a four year period. Beginning next year, district’s utilizing the capital outlay flexibility would not be able to use more than 40 percent of the fund’s revenue for certain general fund expenses. That percentage would decrease by 10 percent each year until the flexibility sunset date set in 2018. ASBSD is opposed to the bill.

 

HB 1002 – Revise the state aid general education formula to include an adjustment for districts that increase the number of hours in the school year. The bill would provide additional dollars for schools adjusting and maintaining increased hours beginning next year and continuing until 2020. Beginning in 2015 districts would be required to meet certain measurable criteria – graduation rates, ACT scores and state assessment scores – to receive the additional funding unless they have increased their school year by at least 60 hours. ASBSD supports the bill.

 

HB 1003 – Provide a minimum annual percentage increase of two percent to the state aid formula. The annual index factor increase is based on the increase of CPI-W or three percent, whichever is less, but the bill would ensure the increase is set at a minimum of two percent. The bill is designed to provide districts a solid figure to budget for in the upcoming school year. ASBSD supports the bill.

 

HB 1004 – Set the per-student allocation to $4,805 for the 2014-15 school year. The bill would return PSA to its 2010 highpoint, which was before the 8.6 percent funding cut schools were saddled with in 2011. Based on Gov. Daugaard’s proposed three percent increase for K-12 funding, the state would have to supply a mere $5.32 million (a 3.8% increase) in additional funding. ASBSD supports the bill.

 

HB 1005 – Provides funding for technology-oriented professional development for teachers. The bill supplies $2.8 million to be distributed to districts on a per-teacher basis so long as a district provides two days of professional development related to technology for teachers. ASBSD supports the bill.

 

In addition to those five bills, there are two House Concurrent Resolutions that focus on K-12 education. HCR 1001 encourages districts to build on their strengths and collaborate with other districts to provide a “rich education opportunity for all students,” and HCR 1002 recognizes the teacher shortage in South Dakokta. ASBSD supports both resolutions.

 

There are two additional bills – HB 1006 and SB 8 – that relate to property taxes and HB 1011 focuses on the technical institutes that ASBSD is monitoring.

 

What We Anticipate

 

The Common Core Standards will be hotly debated during session as they have been during the interim. Expect to see different bills that could affect the standards, their implementation and potentially the funding.

 

ASBSD supports the implementation and use of Common Core in schools.

 

Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in school could also be a subject raised during session. This past fall a debate was sparked about district policies related to the saying of the pledge. ASBSD Delegates passed a resolution that supported district policies “whereby all grade levels must recite the Pledge of Allegiance.”

 

The 2014 session may also yield a variety of bills related to funding, open enrollment, evaluation and other subjects.

 

Be sure to bookmark the ASBSD Bill Tracker page and Blog to stay up-to-date on the latest from legislative session.

 

What We Hope

 

ASBSD’s hopes this year could mark a turning point in the funding of our K-12 schools. With the introduction of bills like the $4,805 and minimum two percent increase to the index factor, it is clear legislators are taking notice to the prevalent funding crisis our schools are facing.

 

We hope more legislators will take notice of funding problems facing districts and see these pieces of legislation, as well as others, as the solution. We need your help, as board members and administrators, to continue to advocate along with ASBSD for these key pieces of legislation. We hope you’ll help us.

 

“We’re partners in advocating,” Pogany said. “This is a big year for education and legislators need to know your district’s needs. They have to hear from the people shaping our students’ education.”

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