Added dollars for schools in budget
On the 37th legislative day of the 89th legislative session, members of the House and Senate passed the state’s $4.3 billion general fund bill (Senate Bill 187) for fiscal year 2015.
Among the many things the budget includes is a 3.35 percent increase in state aid to education, which was approved by members of the Joint Appropriations committee prior to the budget’s adoption by the full legislature.
“Education received the first dollar and the last dollar,” Sen Deb Peters said about the budget.
The approximately 3.35 percent increase – totaling $2.2 million in additional money for schools paid solely by the state – is intended to be used to increase teacher pay. Legislators plan to include a “letter of intent” that goes along with the additional dollars requesting they be put towards teacher pay increases.
“The teachers in SD do an excellent job. Our focus on teacher pay does not stop with what we did today. We have to keep this moving,” Sen. Billie Sutton said. “We’ve acknowledged we have a problem. I think we’re taking steps to address it.”
During 2013 legislative interim study of school funding, school district officials shared their struggles with losing great teachers to other professions and a lack of new, qualified candidates.
Rep. Spencer Hawley said he considered the plan “just a start” and the legislature needed “a long range plan” to improve teacher pay.
The additional dollars help stabilize long range planning as they are ongoing and will included in the formula in the future. A future that appears brighter with the added funding.
“(School funding’s) up from 1.6 percent to 3 percent,” Sen. Tim Rave said “That’s something to be proud of.”
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. In December, Gov. Dennis Daugaard proposed a three percent increase in state aid.
“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,” ASBSD Executive Director WadePogany said.
“We asked for additional, ongoing dollars for schools and we’re happy with the results.”
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