The school year for South Dakota K-12 students may be longer next year. Tuesday morning Rapid City school officials and state lawmakers talked about the upcoming legislative session as it pertains to education.
One bill, District 33 Representative Jacqueline Sly plans to submit, deals with the yearly school calendar. Under the bill, school districts that want to, can increase their teaching time by two days for the next 5 years. Representative Sly says there will be funding to pay for the cost of more instruction time. "Some school districts feel comfortable where they are at and that's why we made it optional," Representative Sly said.
Superintendent Dr. Tim Mitchell says the district supports more time in the classroom. In fact, Rapid City Schools have more instruction time than any other district in the state.
Finding a way to better compensate teachers is also a priority for state education leaders. Districts throughout the state are having a tough time filling teaching positions. Superintendent Dr. Mitchell says this year he had 5 qualified applicants turn down the same position because the salary was not competitive enough. "We want to continue to get the best teachers in front of the classroom that we can, and it's unfortunate that the pay has not been able to keep up with the pace on the demands of education," Board of Education President Sheryl Kirkeby said.
The base salaries for Rapid City teachers have not changed for the past 3 years, instead the district has given them bonuses.