Educators praise proposed 7% increase in K-12 funding

South Dakota’s K-12 education funding could be getting it’s biggest boost since 2016.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 5:52 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota’s K-12 education funding could be getting it’s biggest boost in years. State legislators said that’s to fight inflation and keep the state competitive in teacher salaries, and it’s a move that education groups around the state are praising.

School Administrators of South Dakota, one of the state’s education groups, came into the 2023 legislative session like many others looking to get a higher increase in funding for K-12 education. Those groups asked for an eight percent increase, based on the Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners. So seven percent coming from the appropriations process is a welcomed effort.

“For us to finish the session, and have them recommend a seven percent increase, we were really happy with that.” SASD Executive Director Rob Monson said.

That’s a sentiment shared by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota. In a statement to Dakota News Now, Executive Director Wade Pognay said that, “we are very grateful to the Legislature for the 7% increase in state funding. These funds are essential to help boards with the ongoing challenges of inflation and teacher salaries for recruiting and retaining teachers in our schools.”

Some of the state’s legislators note that this is the biggest increase in education funding since what the Blue Ribbon Task Force called for back in 2015 and 2016, and the half-penny tax increase that followed. Even though the increase is higher than what’s normal, they said South Dakota’s schools and districts need it.

“I feel very confident that the administrators and local school boards will use it prudently and wisely. I mean, that’s what local control is all about. But we are funding education, both on the K-12 level, technical colleges, and our universities.” said Rep. Linda Duba, (D)-Sioux Falls.

“Seven percent, I think that’s in an inflationary market right now, I think that’s not standard. Probably above, but it’s a lot closer than it used to be.” said. Sen Steve Kolbeck, (R)-Brandon.

That seven percent increase is higher than what Governor Kristi Noem set out for K-12 education in her budget address earlier in the year at five percent. Monson said he’s thankful for even the five percent increase, and wants to thanks legislators for going even higher.

“To help not only our educators to be better paid individuals but workforce development in general. That we’re training that next generation of workers, and we want the best of the best.” Monson said.

The bill that would provide the increase in funding, Senate Bill 24, is currently waiting for Governor Noem’s signature.