Teacher Pay Main Topic At Education Convention

Nearly 500 administrators, school board members attented the event

While parents are busy with back-to-school shopping for the upcoming school year, nearly 500 administrators and school board members are attending a two-day convention in Sioux Falls.

The discussions range from social media training to budgeting and goal setting.

But the dominating topic is the Governor’s new education funding formula.

This is the first year it is being implemented, and school districts are already seeing an impact.

It’s been nearly 5 months since Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a plan that would raise the sales tax by half a cent, in order to increase teacher’s salaries state-wide.

“With the legislative change, we were able to give approximately $7,200 salary increase,” says Brandon Valley School District Superintendent Jarod Larson.

Dr. Jarod Larson says they’ve also been able to recruit more candidates and keep the teachers they already have.

For some schools though, that was never an issue.

“We have fewer than 300 students K-12,” explains Haakon School District school board member Anita Peterson. “We don’t seem to have a huge turnover, there’s one section of first grade, second grade on up, and our teachers happen to be stable in the community.”

Peterson says they were also able to give Haakon School District teachers a raise.

But many of those attending this year’s school board and administration convention say the fight for higher teacher pay isn’t over.

“There’s still a shortage, there’s still a concern, and it’s a process we’ll have to keep working on,” says president of School Administrators of South Dakota, Dr. Jerry Rasmussen.

“I don’t think having well-paid teachers are our goal, having good student achievement is our goal,” adds Gov. Daugaard.

He says the focus should be keeping the pay comparable with other states.

“We should pay enough so we can be competitive,” says Gov. Daugaard. “We can attract teachers to the profession, hold them if they’re here and not have them be attractive to others that are paying more competitively.”

The sales tax increase is expected to boost teacher salaries from $40,000 to $48,500.

The ASBSD & SASD Convention continues Friday.

A panel discussion with administrators from Harrisburg High School will take place to talk about last fall’s school shooting.