Members of the board charged to review school district compliance with state mandates related to teacher pay recently discussed the upcoming waiver process for not meeting teacher pay mandates.
Thirty-six South Dakota school districts missed the mandates for the 2016-17 school year, which required 85 percent of the total state aid dollars be allocated for teacher pay and benefits AND 85 percent of the new revenue percentage increase schools received to be spent on certified instructional staff.
The districts – excluding two who do not receive state aid and will not face penalty – not meeting either or both mandates face a penalty of a 50 percent of their increase in state aid be returned to state, but can apply for a waiver from the penalty. Districts must apply for a waiver by Friday, November 3.
School Finance Accountability Board members, who welcomed Huron Superintendent Terry Nebelsick to the board and elected him President, agreed upon three procedural decisions to expedite the waiver process and clarify waiver questions.
The first procedural decision permits districts within 0.5 percent or less of the missed mandate(s) to waive hearing. However, districts are still required to SUBMIT WAIVER, as it will require approval. SFAB members can also request a hearing of the districts meeting 0.5 or less percent status, if they wish.
Procedural decision number two has SFAB requesting districts applying for a waiver to submit salary increases in non-teacher staff in categories of classified, administration and school support staff.
The last procedural addition passed by the board requires waiver applicants to submit changes to its certified staff after contracts were issued by the district.
These three waiver process procedural updates ARE IN ADDITION to the information required on the Teacher Compensation Accountabilities Waiver (click the link to download). Circumstances for the board to consider a waiver include:
- Retirement of a Teacher;
- Declining Student Enrollment;
- Change in Budgeted Costs for Benefits;
- An Unanticipated Change in Teacher FTE; or
- Any Un-Foreseen or Extenuating Circumstance.
Patrick Weber, a Policy Advisor for Gov. Dennis Daugaard, noted their office has “heard some frustrations from legislators” about the number of districts who did not meet the teacher mandates and “the best thing for this board to do” was to add conditions to the waiver process in order to give districts applying for the waiver the best chance for approval.
In order for districts to avoid the penalty, BOTH SFAB AND the legislature’s Joint Appropriations committee must approve their waiver.
“I think we need to be cautious to assume ill will or foul play as (districts) try to do the best they can,” Nebelsick said, adding that the board did “not want to be a rubber stamp” either.
SFAB members also discussed the possibility of giving districts a conditional waiver permitting them the chance to reopen negotiations and put the required money towards teacher salaries this year.
“I would expect the schools that didn’t make would tell us what they’re doing going forward,” Mobridge-Pollock School Board President and ASBSD Board of Director Eric Stroeder said.
SFAB will hold waiver hearings for districts on Thursday and Friday, November 16-17, with the Department of Education contacting the districts, assisting them with waiver requirements and scheduling hearings.
“Some districts came up short on the mandates, but they made a good faith effort to meet the requirements and faced circumstances that will require them to seek a waiver or conditional waiver,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said.
“We’re confident districts will come before the board, share their circumstances and meet the requirements and we’re thankful the legislature provided districts the option to do so, when needed.”