On eve of legislative session, local leaders push education fund - KOTA Territory News

On eve of legislative session, local leaders push education funding

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After the vote on election day not to increase the sales tax to help fund South Dakota school, local administrators go back to the drawing board.

Fortunately for them, area lawmakers are on their side.
 
Gov. Dennis Daugaard recommended a 3 percent increase in school funding in his budget address in December.

Local school leaders say that's just not enough, especially considering that bump is just to keep up with inflation.
 
"The 3 percent just does not do it over time," said Rapid City Area Schools superintendent Dr. Tim Mitchell.
 
He said the situation is made worse by voters' reluctance to pay for education through tax increases.
 
"If you go to property taxes," one possible venue to increase local funding for education, he said, "I think there's a pretty good bet we'd be highly unsuccessful there."
 
So Mitchell wants to see the state step up and provide more than a 3 percent bump.

Speaking from the state capital, Sen. Stan Adelstein agreed, and even went so far as to say he thinks it's likely the legislature will try to restore previous funding cuts.

But other lawmakers say advanced education has a better shot of making strides this session.
 
"I think it'll be an easier sell on our part as opposed to any funding to traditional K-12," said Senator-elect Mark Kirkeby, R-District 35.
 
A bill sponsored by Kirkeby aims to increase accountability in post-secondary education.
 
"The quality factor, I think, really hasn't been in the forefront," he said. "It's been a numbers game."
 
A numbers game he aims to end with the help of the Council on Higher Education Policy Goals, Performance, and Accountability.
 
"Are those students staying here, are they getting the education that they want," Kirkeby said of the council's goals, "and hopefully in hitting the workforce here in South Dakota."
 
And he said keeping well-educated students in the state to work is nothing but good news for South Dakota.

A recent survey released by Dakota Poll finds 37 percent of respondents thinks the state does a poor job of providing adequate funding for K-12 education.

Just 8 percent thinks the legislature does an excellent job.
 
The legislative session starts Tuesday in Pierre with the governor's State of the State address at noon Mountain Time.

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