Lobby Line - Breaking News


March 10, 2017

Schools to Receive Modest Funding Increase

Legislators wrapped up their work for the year, but not before they were able to find a few extra dollars for K-12 public schools. Lawmakers adopted a budgeted that increases public education funding by .3 percent for the 2017-2018 school year. This boost means that the targeted teacher salary will rise to $48,645, up from $48,500. Despite sales tax revenues coming in lower than anticipated, schools will maintain the funding they received from the additional half penny sales tax, plus the inflationary increase required in the state aid formula. 

SDEA President Mary McCorkle said that while it isn't a big increase, legislators were able to keep education funding in the right direction.  "We have known since last fall that sales tax revenues were not meeting expectations and there was a growing concern that funding for next year would remain flat, or, even worse, education would be cut. Thankfully, the Joint Appropriations Committee was able to find the money to keep schools whole and provide a slight growth in funding.

Lawmakers also had to deal with some conflicting statutes with regard to the half penny sales tax and the state formula. Last year's legislation which allocated the half cent sales tax also contained language to 'earmark' 63 percent of the new revenue for the formula. However, with sales tax revenues coming in lower than expected, lawmakers may have had to cut K-12 funding by about $5 million.  The funding formula, on the other hand, requires that schools receive an inflationary increase of .30 percent.  In order to reconcile the differences, lawmakers opted to remove the earmark legislation from the statute giving public schools a better deal. 

"There is some confusion about why lawmakers removed the percentage increase in SB 35; many were concerned that teachers would lose what they received last year.  SDEA assures you that the money you received last year is still there with a little more to work with," said McCorkle.  "We have to keep the focus on the formula. It's the target salary and the annual inflation factor that will drive education funding in the future. Despite the revenue challenges, lawmakers were able to keep their commitment to schools by giving schools the inflationary increase and therefore increased the target for the state's average teacher salary.  This is good news for our schools, teachers, and, certainly good for South Dakota's students."

The actual amount teachers will receive will come down to salary negotiations this spring.  School districts still must meet the accountability calculation that were established in last year's funding package. Members who have questions regarding accountability for the new dollars should contact their local Uniserv Director.

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