Despite some debate the bill providing a two percent increase in state aid for schools passed through its first chamber.
On a 25-10 vote, Senators approved Senate Bill 53, which would bring the per-student allocation to approximately $4,877 for the 2015-16 school year.
Along with the proposed two percent increase, SB 53 adds the costs of school technology, assessment and the sparsity factor to the school funding formula, which is the mechanism to get above the rate of inflation and statutorily required 1.5 percent increase.
Rolling the three initiatives into the formula would save the state $2.6 million and share the funding between the state and local taxpayers, which is similarly done with the small school adjustment and limited English proficiency dollars that are included in the formula.
An amendment to remove the costs of the three initiatives from the formula was introduced on the floor.
Sen. Scott Parsley, who introduced the amendment, said the rolling of the three initiatives into the formula would “raise local taxpayers” and the state should do what it could to find the dollars needed to keep the formula as is.
Sen. Parsley noted the bill could be amended to include the costs if revenue projections revealed additional dollars would not be available to meet the two percent increase.
Revenue projections were “dimmed” according to Sen. Tim Rave, who urged the body to keep the costs included in SB 53.
The amendment was ultimately defeated and the bill passed in its original form.
Senators also unanimously passed Senate Bill 54, which provides the proposed two percent increase in state aid for schools, changes the maximum level of the special education tax levy, adjusts the funding for disability levels and adds the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to local need calculation at the statewide level.
ASBSD is monitoring both bills.