Teachers

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

As educators incorporate best practices, utilize new projects in certain subjects, and incorporate innovative techniques into their lessons, one constant remains: you can’t teach students who don’t attend. Truancy is an evolving issue in South Dakota’s schools. State lawmakers are working to pass legislation to change state law regarding penalties for being out of school, and school leaders are using every tool they can find to convince kids to class.

SDPB

Supporters of a bill in South Dakota’s Statehouse say it maximizes academic freedom in the classroom, and its opponents say the measure is anti-science. Senate Bill 55 has passed two of the four hurdles to Governor Dennis Daugaard’s desk.

The bill is one sentence long. It says, “No teacher may be prohibited from helping students understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses being taught which are aligned with the content standards established pursuant to § 13-3-48.”

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

State lawmakers say they want to adjust parts of last year’s education overhaul. The governor says the current reform is working, because a sales tax for teacher pay is pushing average educator salaries up.  

One piece of vast K-12 education reform from 2016’s legislative session involves declining enrollment. Schools now must use the final number of students enrolled in the fall to determine their share of state dollars. Before they could average the previous two years to ease into lower funding.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A panel of community members can soon weigh in on work happening in Rapid City Schools. People can apply to be part of a community advisory council. The group will meet once a month to discuss issues related to education in a broad context.

Rapid City Area Schools superintendent Lori Simon says she’s been talking about a community advisory board since she interviewed for the district’s top job. Simon says people who live and work in the community have ideas and perspectives to contribute.

SF Parents Surveyed On School Start Date

Nov 15, 2016
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Thousands of parents in Sioux Falls are getting a survey about the school start date. This is the second year public schools in Sioux Falls started after Labor Day. As decision-makers look to the fall of 2018, they want to know the range of start dates stakeholders prefer.

Sioux Falls School District leaders are assessing what the school calendar should look like two years from now. Brian Maher is superintendent.

Charles Michael Ray / SDPB

The superintendent of Rapid City Area Schools says the district needs a strong strategic plan. Lori Simon says education leaders are working to develop the plan to give direction and establish the district’s priorities.

"It gets everybody in the district working on the same page toward common goals," Simon says. "A strong strategic plan that you keep alive and working really guides decision-making as well as drives the alignment of actions and resources across the district."

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Educators in Sioux Falls say they want computer science classes to equip kids with technology skills and context in the digital community. The Sioux Falls School District implemented a new curriculum one year ago; that move ended keyboarding classes for students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

Middle school curriculum coordinator Sandy Henry says in the spring the district assessed 1,140 sixth graders. She says the average they could type was 23 words per minute.

Courtesy Melody Schopp

South Dakota’s Secretary of Education is reflecting on a recent trip to Africa. Melody Schopp is set to be the next president of the Council of Chief State School Officers, and she went to Malawi last week through the US Department of State.

Schopp says students in Malawi learn in huge classes or groups outside, and they don’t have bright, colorful classrooms like she sees in South Dakota. She says she saw this while touring African schools.

Report Finds Gap In Pay For Pre-K Teachers

Jun 16, 2016
US Department of Education

  A report from the US Department of Education shows that preschool teachers earn significantly less than kindergarten and elementary educators—even in states that provide funding for early childhood programs. 

In South Dakota the median preschool teacher earnings are about $10,000 less than the wages of kindergarten teachers. The report found that even with the same level of education, the wages of preschool teachers fluctuate depending on their work setting.

Rapid City School District Grapples With Teacher Pay

Jun 1, 2016
Kenzie Wagner / SDPB

The Rapid City Board of Education is deciding how to spend the extra one half cent sales tax revenue state lawmakers allocated to school districts.  The board held a special meeting Wednesday after the local teachers union rejected its initial contract offer. 

Officials with the Rapid City teachers union say they’re frustrated after the Rapid City Board of Education’s vote on teacher salary.

Crazy Horse School is receiving a federal grant worth $107,631 to help students cope with suicide on the Pine Ridge Reservation. This is the third grant from the US Department of Education to Pine Ridge schools after tribal leaders declared a state of emergency following a string of suicides.

Project SERV grants target schools where kids experience significant violent or traumatic events. The latest funding adds two counselors at Crazy Horse School in Wanblee to help restore the learning environment.

Secretary John King leads the US Department of Education.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

South Dakota School Districts are deciding how to dole out more money for teacher pay. State lawmakers passed a tax increase to raise educator salaries. Now school leaders must choose how to distribute the money in their districts. In Sioux Falls, the board has unanimously approved a 6.8 percent increase for teachers.

Teachers from around South Dakota are collaborating to find new ways to engage students in problem solving. A conference on Technology and Innovation in Education wrapped up this week. One of the dozens of sessions focused on helping students break into a box by thinking outside of it.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

Lawmakers in Pierre support two programs aimed at Native American education. One measure seeks to help people who want to finish college courses so they can teach in Native American schools. The other sets up a pilot program to combine innovative cultural teachings with standard subjects.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Lawmakers have had lengthy battles this session over teacher pay, South Dakota’s funding formula, and a sales tax hike for education. Most of the money lawmakers are considering for public schools are mandated for teacher salaries, but a sliver of it is dedicated to increasing eLearning. If lawmakers approve the governor’s plan, the E-learning program could receive a $1 million infusion.

Jenifer Jones

A sales tax hike for teacher pay and property tax relief faces its final hurdle Monday in the Statehouse. House Bill 1182 is scheduled for debate on the state Senate floor. Ahead of the vote party leaders say they’re weighing all options to increase education funding.

A sales tax increase to boost teacher pay is one vote away from the governor’s desk, but it is not a done deal.

Jenifer Jones

Lawmakers are endorsing a sales tax increase for teacher pay. House Bill 1182 adds one half-penny to the state’s sales tax to generate money for education and property tax relief. The measure failed by one vote last week. Monday it succeeded by the same margin.

Jenifer Jones / SDPB

Members of South Dakota’s legislature say they have to do something for education funding this session, but they don’t agree on how to fund any changes.

Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

Two bills that establish new guidelines for education funding in South Dakota move on to full consideration in the State Senate. This happened as members of the state House approve a reconsideration of a defeated sales tax increase to pay for the programs.

Jenifer Jones

One vote on the House floor Thursday killed a sales tax increase that supports teacher pay. A tax hike requires a super-majority, so the bill needed support from 47 state representatives. It got 46. The vote is official but it’s not the end of the discussion. 

House Bill 1182 is the governor’s legislation to add one half of one penny to the state’s sales tax. That generates $67 million for education and $40 million for property tax relief.

Ed Funding Plans Compete At Statehouse

Feb 18, 2016
Jenifer Jones

As a bill to increase the sales tax to benefit teacher pay trudges through the Statehouse, some Republican lawmakers are floating an alternative plan that doesn’t raise taxes. House Bill 1182 adds one half percent to the state sales tax. Lawmakers twice used a procedural rule to delay the bill. It’s on this afternoon’s House calendar.

Jenifer Jones

Teachers from across the state say they’re traveling to Pierre to support education funding, yet not everyone is convinced the move is right. A leading lawmaker and the president of a statewide teachers’ organization have different perspectives on the effect of educators turning up at the Statehouse. Still teachers plan to show up this week for debate in Piere. 

Jenifer Jones

Debate on a possible tax hike to fund education is stalled in the State House until next week. Educators who support more money for teacher pay packed the gallery at the Statehouse. As Representatives started work on part of a new education plan for South Dakota, discussion stopped when a fraction of lawmakers invoked a special rule.

Jenifer Jones

A state Senate panel is endorsing education plans that focus on supporting Native American students. One of those measures funds programs that focus on incorporating Indian culture and language into standard subjects. 


Kealey Bultena / SDPB

State lawmakers are trying to figure out the best way to fund education in 151 different South Dakota school districts. And that might be especially difficult when it comes to small schools. Bills with the language of Governor Dennis Daugaard’s plan to increase teacher pay are not yet filed in Pierre. Right now lawmakers are working off of explanations from the governor’s State of the State speech and the Department of Education. Members of the legislature are determining what revamping the K-12 funding formula means for small schools and whether leaders are starting in the right place.

State lawmakers working on policies to increase teacher pay are weighing accountability and local control. The two concepts clash as legislators look at a plan to raise the sales tax for teacher salary increases – even among Republicans who control both chambers of South Dakota’s legislature.

A poll commissioned by Governor Dennis Daugaard indicates at least 71 percent of likely voters approve of his plan to raise the sales tax one half-cent to increase teacher salaries.

Kealey Bultena

Public school administrators are telling teachers a plan to increase the average teacher salary to more than $48,500 doesn’t mean pay raises across the board. Governor Dennis Daugaard wants to boost education funding by raising the sales tax by a half cent. 

South Dakota’s Blue Ribbon Task Force determined that teacher pay in South Dakota is behind surrounding states by thousands of dollars. Now lawmakers must decide on the right mechanism for funding K-12 education and how much money school districts should receive.

Patty Buechler

Mental health care providers working in schools receive recognition this week. Governor Dennis Daugaard has declared School Psychology Week in South Dakota to acknowledge their impact on learning. School psychologists focus on removing challenges so students can succeed in the classroom.

South Dakota Low On Teachers

Sep 11, 2015

A South Dakota task force study has found that almost half of future teachers that graduate from South Dakota colleges leave the state after graduating. And state schools are already short on teachers.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force presented its report Wednesday on the status of South Dakota schools. The report found the large number of new educators leaving the state and 240 classrooms started the 2014-2015 school year without a teacher. Rob Monson is the Executive Director of School Administrators of South Dakota. He says finding teachers can be a real problem.

South Dakota schools have a waiver from No Child Left Behind but it lasts for just one year, and federal officials have put the state on high risk status.

South Dakota’s first waiver from NCLB lasted for three years. The latest exemption applies for only one year – and it’s happening because of teacher evaluations.

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