The final piece in a proposal to increase funding for public education and teacher pay passed its legislative chamber of origin on Tuesday (2/23).
SB 131 was the final bill of a three piece proposal – including Senate Bill 133, which appropriates funds for districts to use innovative education options, and House Bill 1182, which increases the state’s sales tax by a half cent and reduces property taxes – to pass its original legislative chamber.
ASBSD supports each bill in the proposal.
“This is an exciting time,” Sen. Deb Soholt, Co-Chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, said.
Sen. Soholt added that SB 131 came together following an “extraordinary amount of negotiation”, which resulted in all of South Dakota’s education associations supporting the proposal, and “without (SB 131) we cannot move on and do anything else.”
SB 131 establishes a new funding formula for K-12 public schools based on a student-to-teacher ratio, sets a statewide average teacher salary goal of $48,500, adjusts provisions in the Capital Outlay fund, institute equalization principles for other revenue and set caps on general fund reserves.
An amendment passed on the Senate floor implements a 10-year phase in of other revenue equalization for only new wind energy projects.
SB 131 also mandates 85 percent of the new revenue percentage increase schools receive be spent on certified instructional staff, with a penalty of a 50 percent of the increased state aid be returned to state if the target is not met. A waiver process for districts to apply to a review committee – also established in the bill – was set should districts not reach the 85 percent or general fund reserve cap targets.
An in-depth breakdown of the funding pieces of the bill can be found here.
“If we’re going to support sending money (to school districts) we want to make sure it gets to the teachers,” Sen. Craig Tieszen, a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, said.
SB 131 now moves on to the House, along with SB 133, as HB 1182 comes to the Senate. As each bill progresses, South Dakota moves closer to improving teacher salaries, which rank 51st in the nation, and, as Sen. William Shorma put it, are “not just a little below” market value.
“I for one believe we need a dramatic change,” Sen. Shorma said.