A lot of the talk in Pierre throughout session revolved around legislators doing something above the three percent increase to state aid for schools proposed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
On Friday, Joint Appropriators backed that sentiment by approving an amendment providing an approximately 3.35 percent increase – for $2.2 million total – to state aid on an 18-0 vote.
“We’re grateful for the commitment to schools shown by the legislature through this increase,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said. “This is a great step to recovering dollars lost in the 2011 cuts.”
The intent of legislators is that the additional dollars be used to increase teacher pay.
Sen. Bill Van Gerpen, who introduced the 3.35 percent amendment in place of his of previously proposed 3.5 percent amendment, said there will be a “letter of intent” that goes along with the additional dollars requesting they be put towards teacher pay increases.
“I have a great concern for the status of our teachers, in regards to their pay,” Sen. Van Gerpen said. “I know how important…the role of the teacher (is).”
SASD Executive Director Rob Monson told committee members he believed the schools would hold the legislature’s intent to use additional dollars to improve teacher pay in “good faith.”
S.D. Bureau of Finance and Management Commissioner Jason Dilges said the amendment would require the legislature to introduce and pass a new bill (Senate Bill 188) before adjourning on Friday because the additional dollars will change the per-student allocation.
The increase will set the per-student allocation at approximately $4,781 for the 2014-15 school year.
“The additional dollars schools are getting are ongoing dollars that will stay in the formula in the years to come,” Pogany said. “This isn’t one-time money, this is funding here to stay.”
Dilges also noted, when asked, that the new bill would not require a change to property tax levies because the state solely provides funding of any amount above three percent.
State law requires an increase in funding of three percent or the change in CPI-W, whichever is less, and the CPI-W change came in at 1.6 percent.
“Schools are getting more than double what was required by law and we’re thankful Gov. Daugaard took that first step to go above and beyond the law and propose three percent,” Pogany said.
ASBSD advocated for the PSA to be set at $4,805 – a 3.87 percent increase that would have cost the state $5.3 million – throughout session. Pogany said gratitude for the increase should not be tempered.
“We know not all our district’s funding problems are solved yet, but the legislature and governor have set a promising direction,” Pogany said. “We asked for additional, ongoing dollars for schools and we’re happy with the results.”