Senator Johnston and Senate Bill 96

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Senator Johnston and Senate Bill 96

District 12 Sen. Mark Johnston announced his resignation from the legislature Wednesday – making him the third legislator to do so along with District 16 Rep. Patty Miller and District 25 Rep. Jon Hansen.


Sen. Johnston concluded his term as a legislator by collaborating with educators, introducing and championing a piece of legislation, Senate Bill 96, which represents a positive, state-wide shift in the way instruction can be offered to students in smaller school districts.


“The intent of (SB 96) is to give local school boards maximum flexibility,” Sen. Johnston testified during a committee hearing on SB 96. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Dennis Daugaard in March.


In its simplest form, Senate Bill 96 allows school districts to remain open even if they drop below the 100 student enrollment threshold, which, by state law, previously required districts to reorganize.


The meat of bill says that districts with enrollments under 100 can remain open if they are exercising joint powers authority.


Joint powers authority allows districts to share services and costs, such as curriculums, classes or staff among other services.


“It really boils down to the advancement of resources,” Executive Director Wade Pogany said. “School districts today have the tools to offer students more learning opportunities through online and distance learning options.


“The bill promotes collaboration between districts and provides districts the prospect to keep their doors open and provide more options for their students at the same time.”


Read Policy Matters for a more in-depth look at utilizing Joint Powers Authority when it’s released later this month. Check the ASBSD Blog for publication date.

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