Former legislator and blog sponsor Stan Adelstein is urging his Rapid City neighbors to vote yes on the school opt-out on the June 2 ballot. Without the additional six million dollars requested by the Rapid City school board, Adelstein says Rapid City schools will face the “unconscionable” elimination of 120 teaching positions, which will in turn lead to “unmanageable” class sizes. Adelstein also warns of reductions in bus service and extracurricular activities.
Adelstein supplements his primary argument about educational quality with a secondary political argument—not passing the opt-out may hurt school funding statewide:
It is virtually impossible to expect any relief or assistance in our current crisis from Pierre. There are some interesting possibilities after the 2016 election, but today the opt-out election is the only way to make the desperately needed difference in funding levels in the next few years.We definitely must fight for changes in Pierre, but there is no immediate hope for that route. One thing that I know for sure from my years in the legislature: if the opt-out fails, that vote will be used against us! The legislative assumption will be, “If they were unwilling to help themselves, the problem must not be all that bad, so why should we do anything?!” [Stan Adelstein, “The Opt-Out Is the ONLY Immediate Solution!!” A Way to Go, 2015.05.23]
I have heard the opposite argument from Adelstein’s neighbor and two-time legislative candidate Robin Page, who contends that passing the opt-out would take the pressure off legislators to come up with additional K-12 funding. Maybe the point is moot and, as Adelstein says, we cannot expect the current Legislature and Governor to support K-12 education, no matter what the voters do.
Adelstein tempers his stark pessimism about Pierre’s commitment to K-12 education with one tantalizing phrase, “some interesting possibilities after the 2016 election.” Adelstein could foresee the possibility of gubernatorial aspirants like Rep. Mark Mickelson in the Legislature proposing education funding to build their K-12 cred. Or maybe the former Senator is signaling his plan to get back on his legislative horse and ride to Pierre with a caucus of K-12-minded legislators whom he would back in the election.
Adelstein and his neighbors have one week to hash out their differences on funding their schools… and 120 teachers have a week to wait to find out whether they will be cashing their last paycheck from the Rapid City Area Schools.