Recent comments from South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard about teacher salaries being the responsibility of the local district and not the state drew a pointed response from the South Dakota School Superintendents Association.
SDSSA President Dan Leikvold, Superintendent of the Lead-Deadwood School District, wrote an open letter in response to Gov. Daugaard’s comments. Read the full letter here.
“We agree that the goal of education is student achievement, not expenditure,” Leikvold wrote.
“However, as research clearly shows, the role of the teacher is crucial to high student achievement, and, if we want higher student achievement, we need to expend a little more to recruit and retain more quality teachers.”
Multiple studies released this year have cited the struggles of school districts to attract and retain teachers, mainly due to low teacher salaries, which has resulted in teachers leaving South Dakota for neighboring states offering better pay or quitting the profession entirely.
Leikvold noted teacher pay is set by the district, but that the state does “control the amount of revenue that a district receives annually based on the number of students enrolled,”
A national study completed this month (October) by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities revealed South Dakota’s public school districts receive 8.1 percent less state funding per-student based on inflation adjustments than they did in 2008, leaving S.D. at a funding level $306 less per-student than the next closest neighboring state.
“The reality is that many schools in South Dakota simply cannot spend money they do not have,” Leikvold wrote.
To remedy the funding situation, ASBSD along with the School Administrators of South Dakota and the S.D. United School Association introduced a proposal to the South Dakota legislature’s planning committee that would increase the state’s sales tax by a penny from June-August.
Revenue from the penny increase would be dedicated solely to increasing teacher salaries through the creation of the Teacher Salary Enhancement Fund (TSEF) and would raise approximately $40 million annually – equaling $4,000 more per teacher.