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What's Next for SD Teacher Pay?

With Gov. Dennis Daugaard's approval now official, South Dakota teachers are expected to see pay raises starting this fall. (South Dakota Education Association)
With Gov. Dennis Daugaard's approval now official, South Dakota teachers are expected to see pay raises starting this fall. (South Dakota Education Association)
March 14, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. - Now that Gov. Dennis Daugaard has approved a package of laws to raise South Dakota's lowest-in-the-nation teacher pay, educators say they're starting work on rolling out the changes.

The new laws include a half-cent sales tax increase that will go toward raising teacher salaries to more than $48,000 a year. Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, said teachers and the state will be working in the coming weeks to figure out exactly how the money will be divided among schools.

"In the first year, we may find a wrinkle here or there that needs to be tweaked," she said, "but I really think that we have worked hard to put together what we believe is the best approach."

Teachers and administrators also will start negotiating contracts over the spring. McCorkle said teachers could start seeing a bump in their pay as early as the start of the next school year in the fall.

The new sales-tax collection will start in June. Other parts of the governor's education overhaul package include incentives for school districts to share resources. The laws also will boost access to e-learning services and create a teacher-mentoring program. McCorkle said all of these changes will help South Dakota's education system attract and retain more teachers.

"We've been noncompetitive for too long, and we know what that has done to our schools when we haven't had the teachers that we needed," she said. "We're feeling very optimistic."

The governor's education package also includes more than $36 million in property tax relief. As for exactly how much individual teacher raises will be, that has yet to be determined.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - SD