After a two-month hiatus, the legislative planning committee will reconvene on Monday (Nov. 17) to continue their long-term study of K-12 funding.
You can listen to the meeting here – http://sdpb.sd.gov/player/413.html.
The committee will primarily focus on information review and planning on K-12 funding, with teacher pay likely to drive the discussion. Studies and surveys released throughout 2014 have consistently reported a shrinking teacher pool mainly attributed to low pay for the position.
At the committee’s last meeting in September, they were presented a plan to improve teacher pay – dubbed the Teacher Salary Enhancement Fund (TSEF) – by ASBSD, SASD and the South Dakota United School Association.
“The goal is to reach a salary level that allows our districts, and state, to be competitive with surrounding states when it comes to attracting and retaining teachers,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said about the proposal.
South Dakota ranks 51st in the nation in annual average teacher pay at just more than $39,000, which is more than $2,000 behind 50th and more than $8,000 behind North Dakota – the lowest ranked neighboring state.
The TSEF proposal calls for an additional penny increase from June-August to the state’s sales tax. Revenue generated from the tax is estimated at $40 annually, or $4,000 per teacher.
In addition to the penny increase, the proposal calls for districts wanting to receive TSEF dollars would have to have their general fund balance at 40 percent or less (those above 40 percent must spend it down by 2019), increase their minimum base teacher salary by three percent for three years and, if the PSA increase is above two percent, half of the funds from the percentage above two percent must be put towards teacher salaries.
The committee will also discuss potential legislation calling for the repeal of the found program fund. A bill introduced during legislative session dealing with the same concept was killed. ASBSD will closely monitor the committee’s discussion on the proposal.