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PNS Daily Newscast - October 29, 2020 


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Investing in Education a Major Priority for S. Dak. Educators

April 3, 2009

Pierre, SD – The state’s largest teacher union is expressing appreciation to state lawmakers who, despite a weak economy, were able to restore education funding this year. The South Dakota Education Association (SDEA) was aware going into this year’s legislative session that economic conditions in South Dakota would be a challenge, but the organization been pleasantly surprised by the funding decisions lawmakers made, including a per-student spending increase of three percent.

Sandy Arseneault, SDEA president, says districts located in sparsely populated areas of the state and schools with both increasing and decreasing enrollments will also have their funding restored. The federal stimulus dollars couldn’t have come at better time to help South Dakota schools, she says.

"Without the money from the stimulus package, South Dakota educators would be having a much different conversation right now. School districts across the state would have been looking at much deeper cuts than they were already making. We’re very thankful that Senator Johnson and Representative Herseth Sandlin understood investing in education was a key component for getting our economy back on track. So, yeah the stimulus dollars were very important."

Opponents question the lasting effects of the stimulus plan once the states have allocated and used the one-time monies. Arseneault agrees, the package gives only a two-year reprieve, but stresses the cash infusion is critical at a time when state revenues are down.

"That makes it more important that we don’t lose sight of the value of investing in a quality public education. In the end, the investment we make today in education will ultimately make our economy stronger. In the long run, we have to do that. We have to continue that fight. Now is not the time to curtail education funding. Now is the time to increase it."

SDEA is not entirely happy with the education budget, pointing to funding cuts for the Teacher Compensation Assistance and National Board Certification Assistance programs. SDEA's 7,000-plus members are celebrating their 125th anniversary this year with an event planned in Pierre this weekend.



David Law, Public News Service - SD