Gov. Dennis Daugaard punctuated his budget address on Tuesday (Dec. 8) by stating teacher salaries in South Dakota need to be improved.
“I agree that South Dakota needs to increase teacher salaries,” Gov. Daugaard said, noting that the state was falling behind other states in the upper plains region.
“The public expects us to be bold and make real progress.”
“This is a very positive step in the process of improving teacher pay in South Dakota,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said. “Gov. Daugaard has heard our pleas, reviewed the facts and agrees that our state needs to increase teacher pay.”
In November, the Blue Ribbon Task Force submitted its final report to Gov. Daugaard with the recommendation that at least $75 million in new ongoing money was needed to improve teacher pay and set a goal of $48,000 be reached for the statewide average teacher pay.
Where new ongoing revenue originates and what a funding system that increases teacher pay and adequately funds public schools would look like remains in flux, but those questions will continue to get answers at the State of the State address.
“There’s a lot of time between now and the end of session when the final decisions on funding for our schools and teachers will be made,” Pogany said.
The Governor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 included a 0.3 percent in state aid for schools based on the current system in place, which requires an increase of 3 percent or inflation, whichever is less. Gov. Daugaard projected inflation would be between 0 and 2.4 percent over next two years.
However, Gov. Daugaard noted “any proposals made as result of the (Blue Ribbon) Task Force would be on top of” the 0.3% increase to state aid.
Gov. Daugaard said he looked forward to working with legislature “to propose dedicated funding” to public schools based on Blue Ribbon Task Force proposals.
“Improving teacher pay and our school funding system is now more important than ever,” Pogany said.
“We’re optimistic that improved teacher pay and a fair funding system is coming during session based on Gov. Daugaard’s comments today and all the work that’s been done so far.”