House Committee Approves Bill to Fund ESAs
The House Education Committee worked to restore some funding to Educational Service Agencies today/Monday. E-S-A’s basically serve as a central clearing house for school services, on a contract basis with districts. State funding of the agencies has dried up in recent years in difficult budget times. Senate Bill 76 would return money to support the E-S-A’s. State Senator Ryan Maher, whose District 28 covers a large area of northwest South Dakota, says E-S-A’s are very important to schools in his region.
Maher says, "What you'll see, especially when you get into northwest South Dakota, is a lot of the professional development is taking place in Rapid City, Pierre or Sioux Falls. So if you’re a teacher in Harding County, and you’re in professional development, you have to go clear to Sioux Falls. That’s basically two days out of the classroom. Whereas, you can contract with local ESA and get that exact same service, and keep that teacher in the classroom more than they would have to if they were traveling to the different areas of the state. And then professional development may offer graduate or renewal credits too."
The bill as introduced had a dollar amount for E-S-A funding, but that money was stripped in the House Appropriations Committee. Education Committee members approved the bill 13-1.