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Fri Jun 21, 2019, 08:36 PM

Three Years After Sales Tax Hike, State Support for Schools Slipping

Remember all the effort we made just three years ago to rouse the Legislature from two generations of neglect of public education, increase sales tax by a hundred million bucks a year, and boost South Dakota teacher pay from last in the nation to 48th?

South Dakota school district officials confirm what I’ve reported over the past year: we’re not living up to the promises of the 2016 Blue Ribbon teacher pay package. Instead, we’re slipping back into false complacency that’s leaving our schools without the funding they need to meet our kids’ needs:

“People have gotten this big belief that we’ve gotten this money and that we’re ahead of the game,” Harrisburg Superintendent Jim Holbeck said. “That’s not the case. If we don’t fund this thing according to the formula, we’ll be right back where we were.”

…“All of a sudden we are off course for what was the attempt of the law and the Blue Ribbon Task Force and all that went into that,” said Terry Nebelsick, the state’s school finance accountability board chairman and Huron School District superintendent. “That did not take very long.”

…“When can schools start to trust what the legislature passes?” Holbeck said. “We had our formula, and within two years they don’t live up to their word. That’s a big issue. When can we trust something that’s being told to us?” [Shelly Conlon, “South Dakota’s Plan to Raise Teacher Pay Is ‘Off Course,’ Educators Say,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2019.06.20]


If our Governor showed as much legislative enthusiasm for pupils as for pistols, the school districts might have some hope of seeing the state follow through on its 2016 promises. But Noem and the Legislature have shown more interest in micro-managing curriculum and waging culture war against teachers and transgender students than in making sure the state lives up to its commitment to public education.

Read more: http://dakotafreepress.com/2019/06/21/three-years-after-sales-tax-hike-state-support-for-schools-slipping/

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