The crowd from the ASBSD-SASD Convention gathered on the event’s final day for discussion with members of the Blue Ribbon Task Force.
ASBSD President Eric Stroeder, Aberdeen Superintendent Dr. Becky Guffin joined Task Force Co-Chairs Rep. Jacqueline Sly and Sen. Deb Soholt to discuss the work of the group thus far and what’s to come in the future.
“Our goal is not to be disappointing,” Sen. Soholt said. “Our goal is to do something amazing for South Dakota.”
The tall order in front of the Task Force, formed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the legislature in February, includes ensuring a quality system of schools focused on student success, a workforce of great teachers and an efficient, equitable education funding system that focuses on these goals, as well as investigating new possibilities to fund K-12 education.
“Parents want quality teachers for their kids and they’d like to see a long term (funding) plan,” Stroeder, Vice President of the Mobirdge-Pollock School Board, said.
A potential long-term funding plan will continue its development this month, as the Task Force is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Aug. 19 in Pierre at the Ramkota RiverCentre and review district specific education expenditures, as well as the teacher pipeline in South Dakota and around the U.S.
The group met in July for an in-depth review of data on teacher salaries and education expenditures, which ultimately found there was no easy answer for the state’s discrepancy in teacher salaries and education expenditures.
“We have to look at funding education fairly and justly,” Sen. Soholt said during the panel discussion at Convention.
“I don’t see anyone…trying to run away from the hard news (about K-12 funding).”
Sen. Soholt, along with Rep. Sly, urged attendees and the K-12 community to partner with the task force, the legislature and Gov. Daugaard in finding a solution to the teacher pay and funding issues and not assume the study will be fruitless for funding.
“We all have very common concerns. I think that’s what’s very different about this work,” Guffin said. “We all have a common goal.”
Rep. Sly asked the group for patience with process, which is expected to produce a proposal by the end of October that would be presented to Gov. Daugaard and the legislature, as there could be up to three additional meetings among Task Force members after the August meeting.
“We are not at the end,” Rep. Sly said. “(Solutions) will come.”