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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

SD Teachers' Union Urges Legislators: "Focus on the Kids"

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Friday, December 21, 2018   

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota's latest education report card shows performance progress for math and English, and the state teacher's union hopes the new governor and lawmakers will focus on improving that trajectory when they convene next month.

In addition to new legislators, South Dakota will have a new governor for the first time in eight years. Governor-elect Kristi Noem is preparing a budget to present when the legislature convenes in Pierre next month, but South Dakota Education Association President Mary McCorkle hopes the current governor's recommended funding levels for schools will be retained.

"We want to encourage Governor-elect Noem to follow Gov. (Dennis) Daugaard's proposed budget, which would allow for a 2.3 percent increase in education funding," says McCorkle.

In 2017, South Dakota teacher pay climbed out of last place for the first time in 30 years, thanks to approval of a half-penny sales tax passed in 2016. Nonetheless, the state still trails neighboring states in teacher salaries.

South Dakota is one of a handful of states that does not fund preschool education, another ongoing concern for education advocates. And McCorkle lists another worry as the lack of counselors in the public schools – who work with students who need help managing their behavior, keeping up academically, or planning for the future.

"One of the things that often gets cut are school counselors," says McCorkle. “We know that this is important to our educators, and this is critically important to our students."

On Thursday, Governor-elect Noem said she plans to appoint Dakota State University Dean Ben Jones to lead the Department of Education starting in January.


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