The House Appropriations committee Monday decided to amend Fiscal Year 13’s budget. Earlier this year, Governor Dennis Daugaard’s budget proposal included about $16 million left on the bottom line for legislators to decide where the money should go. The amendment splits almost $11 million between K-12 education and Medicaid, and gives the Board of Regents just over $3 million to fill its health insurance hole. Representative Susan Wismer says this is just the House Appropriations recommendation, and there’s still many steps to get through before the budget is finalized.

State legislators are considering a bill that establishes a critical teaching needs scholarship program. South Dakota currently has the Dakota Corps scholarship, which is meant to entice graduating high school students into critically needed fields in South Dakota and to remain in the state for a number of years following college graduation. The Dakota Corps program has four teaching fields listed under critical needs. Senator Tim Rave is the Senate Bill 233’s primary sponsor.

More Funding Sought for English Language Learners

Feb 27, 2013

Representative Mark Mickelson says South Dakota is home to about 2,200 students whose first language isn’t English. That’s why he’s a sponsor of Senate Bill 159, which attempts to adjust the state aid formula for students with limited English proficiency. Mickelson says South Dakota’s economic development is bringing in many immigrants, but schools don’t have the resources to support the learning needs of children who come in at Level 1 and need the most help.

Solution Found To Gap In Education Funding

Feb 20, 2013

By Victoria Wicks

A gap in education services for children in treatment could be bridged if Senate Bill 158 continues toward approval.

The bill provides education funding for young people who have been placed in a residential treatment center by their parents.

Deb Bowman is Governor Dennis Daugaard’s senior advisor. She told the House Education Committee Wednesday that responsibility for funding education for children placed by parents has been a debate for a decade.

This year, a work group met over the summer and decided on a plan of action.

Legislator Battles K-12 Education Evaluation Standard

Feb 18, 2013

A state representative and former teacher is waging war against common core standards, a method of evaluating student progress in K-12 education. Jim Bolin tells the House Education Committee that the standards force national evaluations on South Dakota students and set aside local authority. But the Secretary of Education says educators can still set curriculum and teaching methods—core standards measure whether those techniques work.

Small Schools Have Option For Distance Learning

Feb 14, 2013

By Victoria Wicks
Small schools in South Dakota can avoid consolidation by offering certain subjects through distance learning. A Senate bill is heading for final discussion in the House with strong recommendations from the House Education Committee.
Senator Mark Johnston says he visited schools that currently use the Innovation Lab concept, with teachers onscreen interacting with students.
He wants to use this process to keep small schools from having to consolidate.

Senate Education Advances Capital Outlay Extension

Feb 12, 2013

Schools’ ability to use capital outlay funds could extend five more years. The state legislature allowed schools more flexibility in how they use their capital outlay funds following the economic downturn in 2009, and new legislation will allow it to continue until 2018. The current legislation is set to expire in 2014. The capital outlay fund of the school district is a fund provided by law to meet expenditures. Senator Bill Van Gerpen is the primary sponsor of the bill. He says schools are still doing a great job with limited funds.

Education: Local Control Versus State Oversight

Feb 7, 2013

By Victoria Wicks
Republicans say educators send mixed messages whether they want state or local control, depending on the issue. Organizations of school boards, administrators, and teachers oppose the sentinel bill, which allows school boards to decide whether to arm school personnel. And teachers successfully fought a proposal to allow school boards to opt out of continuing contracts. But legislators say educators insist on local control in other matters.

Education Committee: Contracts Continue

Feb 7, 2013

By Victoria Wicks
A bill to allow school boards to opt out of continuing contracts with teachers was killed in the Senate Education Committee on Thursday.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Al Novstrup, who says he supports local control. He told commissioners that local school boards are the employers and therefore closer to the hiring situation, and so it should be up to them whether to enter into continuing contracts.

Lawmakers Quash Ed Funding Increase Proposal

Jan 30, 2013

Lawmakers in the House State Affairs committee heard a bill to increase the state aid to education to make up for the cutbacks undertaken in the last few years.

Gary Leighton Superintendent of Florence School located in the North East part of the state is among those who testified.   Leighton says his small school district had to cut two teachers in the last two years alongside a number of other cuts.

Bill Passes To Strenghthen Universities

Jan 17, 2013

The State Senate Education Committee passed a bill that proponents say improves the college experience in South Dakota. In part, the bill aims to make college affordable and to improve development capacity. It also sets up a council to oversee the effort. Jack Warner, the Executive Director of the Board of Regents is backing the bill.  

Education In The 2013 Legislature

Jan 9, 2013

South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp talks about educations issues in the state. Last year education was the hot issue during the state legislation. An education reform bill was passed and signed by Governor Dennis Daugaard, but then turned down by voters in the fall. Education will likely be another important issue this year, although the Governor hasn't proposed any major reforms.

Olympics of Computer Science

Jan 4, 2013

A South Dakota School of Mines and Technology student programming team has qualified for the Olympics of Computer Science in Russia this summer.  It's the fifth time a School of Mines team has qualified for the event.  Student Dean Laganier and Mathematics and Computer Science Department Head Kyle Riley joined SDPB's Cara Hetland on Friday.

USD To Plan, Build Research Park

Dec 19, 2012

Plans for a university research park in Sioux Falls have the go-ahead from the Board of Regents. The panel authorizes the University of South Dakota to plan a facility that houses  private and public researchers.

Getting approval for a research park is the beginning of an endeavor that lasts a couple of decades. That’s according to Laura Jenski, who is the vice president of research at USD. She says people can envision several acres of buildings in Sioux Falls where tenants conduct research and develop prototypes in emerging fields.

Winning Over Freshmen

Dec 18, 2012

A new study shows that South Dakota continues to import more college freshmen than it sends to colleges in other states and is, in fact, gaining ground on this exchange.  "It's all about pursuing strategies to keep South Dakota students here for higher education, retain them through their college careers, and then employ them within the state in highly-skilled positions," said Jack Warner, Executive Director and CEO of the South Dakota Board of Regents.  Warner appeared on Dakota Midday Tuesday.

First Lady's Reading Initiative

Dec 5, 2012

South Dakota First Lady Linda Daugaard visited her 200th elementary school last week as part of her initiative to encourage students to read.  Daugaard read to students in the third, fourth and fifth grades at Lincoln Elementary School in Aberdeen on Friday.  The First Lady's goal is to stress the importance of reading as a lifelong tool.  Since May 8, 2011, she has read to more than 19,000 elementary students across the state.

SF To Consolidate Elementary Schools

Nov 26, 2012
Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Hundreds of elementary students who attend a handful of Sioux Falls schools say goodbye to their buildings by 2015. Monday night, school board members approve shutting down two small, older schools and constructing one larger building on the site of a third elementary. At the meeting, parents and school administrators split along ideological lines.

High School Students Compete Over Constitution

Nov 26, 2012

This week students from four South Dakota high schools converge on the state capitol to fight it out over the U.S. Constitution.

The South Dakota “We the People” High School State Competition gives students a chance to showcase their understanding of the Constitution.

Lennis Larson  is one of the coordinators of the program and a retired government teacher from Spearfish.   

He says the program intends to help promote civic confidence and responsibility among high school kids.

Education Funding

Oct 24, 2012

Doug Hall, director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network in Washington, D.C., joins Kealey Bultena on Dakota Midday to discuss how education funding in South Dakota compares to surrounding states and whether investing more money in schools actually leads to better education.

SDPB news producer Kealey Bultena explains the Attorney General's brief of Measure 15.  Bultena talked with Andy Wiese, a representative of Moving South Dakota Forward, a coalition in favor of Initiated Measure 15, and  Jeremiah M. Murphy, who represents groups against Initiated Measure 15.  Initiated Measure 15 increases the state sales tax by one percent and designates that money to K-12 education and Medicaid providers.  Some groups say it's the most effective way to serve schools and Medicaid service providers after legislative cuts that haven't been restored.

Poet Taylor Mali

Oct 16, 2012

Taylor Mali's mastery with words has inspired many to go into the teaching profession.  He has traveled throughout the world to perform and lecture for teachers.  Mali recently published a book of essays, "What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World," which chronicles his life from teacher to advocate.  Mali spoke Tuesday at Black Hills State University as part of the Madeline A. Young Distinguished Speaker Series.

Higher Education - Preparing Future Teachers

Oct 12, 2012

Greg Francom, Assistant Professor of E-Learning at Northern State University, and Mark Geary, Assistant Professor of Technology and Literacy at Dakota State University, talk about the future for incoming teachers and how they can adapt to the new technology in their schools.

Kealey Bultena

South Dakota classrooms look far different now than they did even a decade ago. Students still use pencils to fill out worksheets and find information in their books, but elements of learning have moved from printed sheets to computer screens. That’s been fairly common for years, but now one school district is testing technology from a new vantage point.

Current high school chemistry classes are likely a little different than chem lectures of the past. In a Lincoln High School classroom, each student has his or her own personal periodic table. It’s illuminated on an iPad screen.

Group Urging Voters to Vote No on Tax Increase

Oct 3, 2012

Some family farmers and small business owners are encouraging South Dakota voters to vote NO on initiated measure 15 during the November election. The initiated measure proposes a sales tax increase from four cents to five cents on every dollar. SDPB’s Cassie Bartlett has this story.

Kealey Bultena

Out of every one hundred South Dakota high school students, 16 of those won’t graduate on time. Earlier this week, SDPB Radio examined some high schools’ efforts to keep kids in class. The methods show promise, but they don’t work for every student. This Dakota Digest explores what happens when a student can’t complete their coursework in four years, even with their educators’ help.

Dropout Nation

Sep 25, 2012

The FRONTLINE special, "Dropout Nation," airs tonight at 8 p.m. Central on SDPB-TV.  Every year, hundreds of thousands of teenagers in the United States quit high school without diplomas.  FRONTLINE spent a semester immersed in Sharpstown High School in Houston, once a notorious "dropout factory," to produce a portrait of four students in crisis and the teachers, counselors and principal waging a daily struggle to get them to graduate.  Dakota Midday host Karl Gehrke is joined by FRONTLINE producer Frank Koughan.

Kealey Bultena

South Dakota’s education report card shows the state’s high school completion rate dropped slightly this year, but education officials say it’s mostly flat. South Dakota didn’t see a huge increase in the dropout rate, but the state didn’t make any significant improvements in keeping more students on track. Educators around South Dakota try to curb dropout rates by encouraging students to stay in class.

submitted photo

To observe Constitution and Citizenship Week, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology invited Rapid City lawyer Patrick Duffy to speak to students. Duffy says Americans are woefully uninformed about their own rights, and that ignorance threatens democracy. For today’s Dakota Digest, SDPB’s Victoria Wicks brings us part of that speech and talks with Duffy in his office.


Brooke Orcutt is a Plain Green Conference committee member.  She discusses the conference and projects throughout the year.

Lisa Taylor  talks about her program City Farming For Everyone!  Lisa Taylor is the author of Your Farm in the City:  An Urban Dweller’s Guide to Growing Food and Raising Animals.  She lives in Shoreline, Washington and spends most of her days growing and eating plants with children.  She is the Children’s Education Program Manager for Seattle Tilth. 

Kealey Bultena

Sioux Falls parents are considering whether their children are better off in older, revitalized school buildings close to home or in a new building that combines two current elementary schools.