Members of the House Education committee voted to defer one bill to the 41st legislative day and send another to the House floor.
On an 8-6 vote, committee members killed House Bill 1114, which would have required school districts with general fund balances of 50 percent or greater during the previous fiscal year to compensate teachers for continuing education expenses and for renewing teachers’ certificates.
Rep. Jim Bolin, the bill’s main sponsor, claimed to have introduced the bill “to help the teachers of this state,” but acknowledged the bill brought light to what he referred to as a “stockpile” of money in school reserves.
ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany, who testified in opposition to the bill, asked why the bill “selected one group of teachers over another?
SASD Executive Director Rob Monson, also testifying in opposition of the bill, said only 23% of South Dakota school districts would fall in the category created by HB 1114. Rep. Bolin flippantly remarked the percentage provided by Monson of the school districts represented in HB 1114 was the only thing the SASD Director got right in his testimony.
Rep. Bolin, who described his bill as a “counterintuitive approach” and “backdoor pay raise” for teachers, referred to ASBSD and SASD’s approach to school funding as going down “the traditional road that has led us nowhere.” He also admitted to not being aware of a plan to improve teacher pay.
During his testimony, Pogany asked what question the bill is trying to answer, “teacher pay or fund balances?” and invited a conversation with the legislature on school fund balances, if that’s what is needed.
“If the issue is high fund balances we should have some legislation to address that, rather than this backdoor approach,” Rep. Timothy Johns said prior to voting in favor of deferral of HB 1114.
Committee members unanimously approved House Bill 1101, which ensures local control over curriculum and methods of instructions.
ASBSD supports the bill and Pogany testified that “it’s important” for curriculum decisions to stay at the local level with school board members, administrators and teachers. Supporters of the bill also included the South Dakota Department of Education and South Dakota Education Association.
Curriculum decisions have been left to local school districts since 1995, but recent reviews of content standards have clouded who controls the way standards are taught.
Rep. Jacqueline Sly, prime sponsor of HB 1101, said the bill clarifies the method of teaching is determined at the local level and not by the state and believes bill language empowers local control over curriculum.
Rep. Peggy Gibson concurred with Rep. Sly, noting the bill leaves no question of the legislature’s intent of who controls curriculum.
HB 1101 now moves to the House floor for review and vote.