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Public Support Seen as Crucial for Improving SD Teacher Pay

After public meetings across the state, the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Education has presented its recommendations on improving teacher pay to Gov. Daugaard. Credit: Jerry Oster
After public meetings across the state, the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Education has presented its recommendations on improving teacher pay to Gov. Daugaard. Credit: Jerry Oster
November 30, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. - South Dakota's Blue Ribbon Task Force on Education held a number of public meetings across the state, looking for ideas and consensus on how to retain qualified teachers.

Its report to the governor outlines a plan to move average teacher pay in the state to $48,000 a year, and suggests raising the state sales tax by a penny to pay for it.

Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, says the task force report is just a beginning.

"The 'Blue Ribbon' came together," she says. "They worked hard, they looked at data, they reflected and their recommendations represent that research and their best thinking. And now, the work begins."

South Dakota has been ranked 51st in the nation in teacher pay for a number of years. McCorkle says this proposal would make the state more competitive with neighboring states, with the goal of keeping good teachers from leaving for higher pay elsewhere.

Even though the South Dakota Legislature will ultimately decide the fate of the recommendations, McCorkle says everyone in the state has a stake in the outcome.

"It's our responsibility as a state to move this forward," says McCorkle. "And when I say that, I don't say, 'It's the governor's responsibility; it's the legislators' responsibility.' We have all got to do this."

The next step will be to see if any of the Blue Ribbon recommendations are included in Gov. Dennis Daugaard's budget address, coming up on Dec. 8.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD