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SD Teacher Bonus Bill On November Ballot

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A bill that would provide merit pay for teachers in South Dakota will now be put to a public vote. Secretary of State Jason Gant says the state's main teachers union has submitted enough petition signatures to put house bill 1234 on the November ballot.

It hasn't been easy.

Amanda Mack from the South Dakota Edcuation Association said, "We've had hundreds and hundreds of people in and out of our offices across the state, gathering petitions, gathering signatures, bringing them back."

As soon as House Bill 1234 was passed in the South Dakota legislature. Members and even non-members of the South Dakota Education Association got to work.

Mack said, "We've been opposed to this bill from the beginning."> [Length:04]

So opposed to the plan that would give bonuses to top teachers, phase out tenure and recruit
candidates for critical teaching jobs,that they would go door to door collecting signatures.

Mack said, "This bill is not the solution to the problems facing education in South Dakota. If we were able to fund the formula properly and able to give schools the resources that they need to determine what teachers to hire, what textbooks they need, what supplies they need we'd be in a much better position than we are."

The union needed 15,850 signatures to put the measure on the November ballot. A number that was no match for these South Dakota educators. They collected nearly 26,000.

"We were confident that we were going to get the number of signatures but almost doubling the required amount is a pretty significant step," said Mack.

A pretty significant step in what, they hope, will be a much bigger campaign.

"We're looking forward to the campaign leading us to November. It's going to be great conversation that we're going to be able to have with the general public," said Mack.

With no doubt in their minds that they'll put forward more than enough effort to convince the public to see it their way.

It was Governor Dennis Duagaard who proposed the bill. He says he believes great teaching is the key to student achievement. He released a statement today in response to the public vote saying: "Now that this has been placed on the November ballot, we can look forward to a discussion as to how best to advance student achievement, reward great teaching and attract more good teachers to the profession."
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