Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students has its website up. BlueRibbon.SD.Gov is nicely named for the next time the Governor needs to delay action on obvious problems with obvious solutions.
The Blue Ribbon website still doesn’t offer much: three goals, three useful resource links, a list of initial members (with no direct contact information), and a feedback page. The meeting schedule is incomplete, but that Sioux Falls paper offers these dates for the Blue Ribbon road show:
- June 2: Chamberlain
- June 3: Rapid City
- June 16: Sioux Falls
- June 17: Yankton
- June 22: Watertown
- June 23: Aberdeen
Patrick Anderson says the Governor’s office hasn’t announced exact sites for the meetings, but they will happen from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in each town.
Anderson’s article on the impending meetings contains two errors worthy of correction:
Under the current law, per-student dollars are supposed to increase by 3 percent or inflation each year, whichever is less, but lawmakers froze the rate in 2010 and slashed funding by 8.6 percent in 2011.
After years of gradual increases, the per-student amount finally recovered this year from those recession-era cuts [Patrick Anderson, “School Funding to Get Facelift?” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.04.22].
The per-student allocation has not “recovered” from “recession-era” cuts. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, measured by raw dollars, South Dakota experienced three consecutive quarters of GDP shrinkage in quarters 2, 3, and 4 of 2008, followed by GDP growth in Q1 2009, shrinkage in Q2 2009, followed entirely by quarters of growth, with the exception of one more GDP decrease in Q1 2012 of 0.01%. Over Fiscal Year 2012, the year in which K-12 education took the 8.6% hit, South Dakota’s GDP grew 4.77%. The 2011 cuts did not correspond with an economic recession.
“Recovered” misrepresents the situation. Recovery implies that the per-student allocation is back where it should be, or at least where it would be if the 2011 cuts hadn’t happened. This year’s 2% budget boost finally lifted the per-student allocation above its previous FY2010–FY2011 peak of $4,805, but as was Governor Daugaard’s intent in 2011, the per-student allocation remains locked in a new norm in which it lags five years behind where it would have been had we followed the legal funding formula.
The Blue Ribbon panel leaders insist they are open to a discussion of overhauling the K-12 funding formula. Being open to simply throwing out the new norm and returning to the old norm that could add nearly a thousand dollars to the per-student allocation and perhaps the $100 million we need to give every teacher a $10K raise might be sufficient.