Friday, May 27, 2022

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High gas prices are not slowing down Memorial Day travel, early voting starts tomorrow in Nevada, and Oregon activists seek accountability for dioxin contamination in low-income Eugene.

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Education Secretary Cardona calls for action after the Texas massacre, Republicans block a domestic terrorism vote, and Secretary of State Blinken calls China the greatest challenger to U.S. and its allies.

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High-speed internet is being used to entice remote workers to rural communities, Georgia is offering Black women participation in a guaranteed income initiative, and under-resourced students in Montana get a boost toward graduation.

Teacher Pay Bill Advances in SD

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Friday, January 28, 2022   

South Dakota continues to grapple with its low ranking when it comes to paying schoolteachers, but the issue is getting focus in 2022, including a bill making its way through the Legislature to keep salaries from falling behind.

The measure won House approval this week. It would extend a requirement school districts commit to salary benchmarks established in 2016, or risk losing state aid.

Rep. Hugh Bartels, R-Watertown, the bill's sponsor, said with the rule recently expired, they want to keep it in place for a few more years. He pointed to some districts having levels very close to the lowest threshold.

"There's 31 school districts that are less than 3% away from what they paid in 2017."

He noted in some cases, there are pressing matters as to why those levels are on the lower end. The requirement was tied to a half-cent sales tax, which called on districts to commit a significant percentage toward salary and benefits. Opponents of the extension said it places a burden on districts, but supporters pointed out a waiver can be filed.

Sandra Waltman, lobbyist for the South Dakota Education Association, testified in support of the bill during a House committee hearing. She said the extension maintains accountability by encouraging districts to keep working toward the same goal.

"If we have our school districts continually raising their compensation, it helps teacher compensation across the state and makes us a more attractive place to work," Waltman contended.

Proponents also noted with the waiver option in mind, no district has been penalized since the requirement was adopted. Outside this bill, Gov. Kristi Noem has proposed a 6% increase in school district aid, with the idea of money going toward higher pay for staff.

Disclosure: South Dakota Education Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Education. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

References:  
House Bill 1080 2022

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