ASBSD’s Board of Directors met with members of the Blue Ribbon Task Force at their April meeting to discuss the needs and challenges facing schools and expectations of the task force.
Rep. Jacqueline Sly, who will co-chair the committee, and TIE Learning Specialist Dr. Jim Parry joined the Board of Directors in Keystone (read about the meeting here) and shared the goals of the Task Force:
- A quality system of schools that focuses on student success;
- A workforce of great teachers;
- An efficient, equitable education funding system that focuses on these goals.
The Task Force will also ask the question: “What new possibilities are there to meaningfully fund education for our kids and our communities?”
“Stability is key. We need stability,” ASBSD President Denise Lutkemeier said. “We don’t want to (spend) what we don’t know we’re not going to have.”
Director Deb Koenecke of Deuel said the possibility of a funding cut worries the district and their fund balance is kept at a level to ensure financial security in case of uncertainty.
Rep. Sly asked Directors if the current education funding formula is an inequitable funding mechanism. Director Jeff Nelson of Rapid City said district enrollment is the largest determiner of state funding as schools with plateauing enrollment fall behind those with growing enrollments. Lutkemeier added that costs for school districts maintain even when enrollments fall.
Parry asked if districts had explored combining classrooms or collaboration with other districts.
“I think the districts work very hard to cooperate to share resources,” Nelson said.
Director Tom Farrel of Madison said his district’s CTE program is open to surrounding districts and Lutkemier said the Wilmot School District, which she represents, has shared instructors in different subject areas with surrounding schools for four years.
Second Vice President Anita Peterson said her school, Haakon School District located in Philip, is located approximately 30 miles from the next closest district making it difficult to share instructors, but offer distance learning options to students who wish to enroll in courses they may not offer in the building.
Conversation also focused on the teacher shortage facing the state.
“We’re not getting quality candidates that we should,” Director Duane Alm of Aberdeen said.
First Vice President Eric Stroeder noted the teacher shortage is creating “a tough market” and schools are looking for help in different areas.
“How come we don’t have dedicated taxes to education?” Stroeder asked.
ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said a fund sharing model between the state and local school districts and tax payers should be examined with both sides showing a willingness to invest in education.
“I think that’s a discussion we should have,” Pogany said. “It could happen with education.”
Rep. Sly noted previous studies of the criminal and juvenile justice systems convened by Gov. Dennis Daugaard resulted in legislative packages aimed at solving problems, which is the intent of the Task Force, as well.
“Don’t lose sight that we’re here for the students,” Director Melissa Whipple of Todd County said.
The Task Force will hold six listening sessions across the state in June and following the sessions additional members, which will include school board members, administrators, teachers and parents, will be appointed.
Director Bryan Bauer of Douglas thanked Rep. Sly and Dr. Parry for joining the Board of Directors to discuss the upcoming study and Gov. Daugaard for taking the initiative to convene the study.
Pogany added that the Task Force should seek out board members should they have questions.
“Whatever resources you need for this task force or whatever questions we can answer, do not hesitate to contact us,” Pogany said.