The latest study released by the South Dakota School Administrators on the teacher shortage shared even more troubling news as the number of retiring teachers in the state exceeds the number of teacher education majors enrolled in South Dakota’s higher education institutions that are ready to replace retirees.
SASD information from the South Dakota Retirement System (SDRS) and eight South Dakota colleges and universities shows the number of potential teacher retirees surpasses the number of potential new teachers by 278 in 2015, with approximately 427 fewer teaching candidates coming in 2016.
According to SDRS figures, 1,004 school district employees with a teaching certificate were eligible for retirement as of November 30, 2014.
Potential new teachers who would graduate from Augustana College, Black Hills State University, Dakota State University, Dakota Wesleyan University, Northern State University, South Dakota State University, University of Sioux Falls and University of South Dakota totaled 726 for 2015 and 577 for 2016.
“With this study we’re seeing new and disturbing information,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said. “We have a lot of teachers who are ready to retire and we don’t a new group to replenish the teacher pool.”
The low salary numbers is a big reason for low student interest in education programs at the university level, said USD President Jim Abbott.
“Students are well aware South Dakota teacher salaries are low,” President Abbott said. “As a result, they often choose another field of study, or upon graduation, seek teaching jobs in other states.
SASD, Associated School Boards of South Dakota and the S.D. United School Association introduced a proposal that would increase the state’s sales tax by a penny from June-August and raise approximately $40 million annually to be dedicated specifically to increasing teacher salaries.
An Argus Leader/Keloland poll released in October revealed 63 percent of people polled would support the proposal.
“We want to ask the question of South Dakotans: would you be willing to pay one penny more for three months out of the year to improve teacher pay in the state,” Pogany said.
“The proposal is a conversation starter for a solution because without one we’re going lose teachers at a rapid rate and ultimately diminish the quality of education we offer our students.”