4 out of 5 SD School Districts Have More Teachers than Daugaard Teacher-Pay Plan Wants

My post last week attempting to explain the new Blue Ribbon K-12 funding formula proposed by Governor Daugaard in Senate Bill 131 drew plenty fire from folks in the know noting that my three examples (Henry, Ipswich, and Aberdeen) didn’t take into account the small-school factor in the current formula, a factor that is subsumed into the new sliding range for ideal student-teacher ratios.

So let’s try again, this time with all 150 South Dakota school districts. The Blue Ribbon K-12 panel provides a spectacular spreadsheet comparing current per-student allocation, small-school adjustment, and English language learner adjustments for each school with the funding that the Governor’s new teacher-based formula would provide. I add Department of Education data on actual instructional staff in each district in the 2014–2015 school year. I also modify the formula used to figure ideal student-teacher ratios for a simpler, more accurate count than the Blue Ribbon spreadsheet produces; the differene in results is minimal, but I suggest DOE adopt my formula for accurate implementation of the statutory formula if SB 131 is adopted.

Click here to view the Google Drive spreadsheet from which I obtain the following figures. Here are the highlights:

  1. Statewide, the actual dollars allocated per actual student, including small school adjustment and English language learning factor, increases 10.97%. The increases per school range from 9.55% at Plankinton to 13.00% at Leola.
  2. The new formula’s target number of teachers for the entire state is 9,074.
  3. The actual number of teachers in the 2014–2015 school year was 9,430.
  4. The two above figures suggest that South Dakota only needs to shed 356 teachers to meet the target number of teachers. However, 30 schools already have fewer teachers than the SB 131 formula says they should. The 120 schools that currently have more teachers than the SB 131 target prescribes would have to cut 631 teachers to meet the target.
  5. Many of the districts that have more teachers than the SB 131 formula prescribes serve significant Native American populations.
  6. Divide the SB 131 formula money up among the target number of teachers, and our statewide average teacher pay would be $48,721.
  7. Divide the SB 131 formula money up among the actual number of teachers at the end of the last school year, and SB 131 gets us to an average teacher salary of $46,880.
  8. Under the new formula, 31 schools will get enough money to meet or beat the $48,500 target salary at their 2014–2015 teaching staff levels.
  9. 55 schools won’t be able to reach average salaries of $40,000.
  10. Nine schools can’t even get to average salaries of $30,000.
  11. Of the twenty largest school districts (by fall 2015 enrollment), six would have to cut teaching staff to meet the target average salary: Harrisburg, Meade, Spearfish, Todd County, Oglala Lakota County, and Belle Fourche. Those six schools would have to shed 51 (5.3%) of their 962 teachers to meet the SB 131 target student-teacher ratios.
  12. Of the twenty smallest school districts, all have more staff than the SB 131 formula prescribes. Those twenty smallest districts would have to shed 110 (34.4%) of their 320 teachers to meet the SB 131 target student-teacher ratios.

Here are all 150 school districts, listed in descending order of achievable salaries, including dollars for Limited English Proficiency, for actual teachers on staff at the end of the last school year.

District achievable salary w LEP Target # of Funded Teachers
(SB 131)
Actual Certified Instructional Staff (AY2015) Target Student/ Teacher Ratio
(SB 131)
Actual Student-Teacher Ratio AY2015
Huron $58,394 164.8 144.2 15.0 16.7
Brandon Valley $56,339 251.9 217.1 15.0 16.8
Tea Area $55,939 107.2 93.0 15.0 16.1
Pierre $54,781 177.6 157.3 15.0 16.9
Sioux Valley $53,925 42.9 38.7 15.0 16.4
Lennox $53,778 70.0 63.1 15.0 16.6
Yankton $53,413 180.6 164.3 15.0 16.3
Plankinton $53,344 25.3 23.1 13.4 14.3
Dakota Valley $53,302 85.7 78.1 15.0 16.0
Aberdeen $53,178 298.1 272.5 15.0 16.0
Viborg -Hurley $53,178 26.0 23.8 13.4 14.6
Warner $53,146 23.7 21.6 13.2 14.2
Castlewood $52,745 20.2 18.6 12.9 14.0
Watertown $52,430 264.5 244.9 15.0 16.0
Haakon $51,917 22.7 21.2 13.1 13.9
Sioux Falls $51,420 1557.0 1486.1 15.0 15.6
Hanson $51,348 31.4 29.8 14.0 14.2
Ethan $50,732 19.0 18.2 12.8 13.2
Gettysburg $50,702 20.3 19.4 12.9 13.4
Tri-Valley $50,405 59.8 57.7 15.0 14.7
Gayville-Volin $50,100 22.0 21.3 13.0 12.9
Colman-Egan $50,058 20.1 19.5 12.9 13.3
Brookings $49,899 223.6 218.2 15.0 15.0
Madison Central $49,462 77.4 75.9 15.0 14.9
Mitchell $49,077 185.7 183.8 15.0 14.9
West Central $48,969 91.7 90.9 15.0 14.8
Rapid City $48,918 921.8 914.8 15.0 15.1
Estelline $48,855 19.8 19.7 12.8 12.9
Faulkton Area $48,746 23.7 23.7 13.2 13.3
Lemmon $48,721 21.1 21.0 13.0 12.7
Douglas $48,610 183.9 183.6 15.0 14.6
Winner $48,466 48.1 48.1 15.0 14.2
Hamlin $48,429 48.5 48.6 15.0 14.9
Spearfish $48,403 149.1 149.5 15.0 14.8
Wessington Springs $48,313 25.4 25.7 13.4 12.4
Elk Point-Jefferson $47,996 46.5 47.0 15.0 15.0
Chester $47,735 39.4 40.2 14.9 15.2
Waverly $47,696 18.7 19.0 12.7 11.2
Beresford $47,574 44.5 45.4 15.0 14.4
Florence $47,519 18.6 19.0 12.7 11.9
New Underwood $47,491 20.5 20.9 12.9 12.7
Arlington $47,463 21.8 22.3 13.0 12.8
Belle Fourche $47,453 92.0 94.1 15.0 14.4
Oglala Lakota County $47,446 95.9 98.4 15.0 14.0
Dell Rapids $47,410 61.1 62.5 15.0 14.6
Meade $47,125 178.8 184.0 15.0 14.4
Baltic $46,983 33.5 34.6 14.2 13.3
Freeman $46,715 24.5 25.9 13.3 12.0
Harrisburg $46,692 256.9 267.2 15.0 13.4
Webster Area $46,485 35.9 37.5 14.5 13.6
Parker $46,415 28.6 30.0 13.7 12.8
Deuel $46,329 35.0 36.8 14.4 13.9
Montrose $46,323 18.8 19.8 12.7 11.7
Mobridge-Pollock $46,150 45.5 47.8 15.0 14.1
Wolsey-Wessington $45,994 26.0 27.4 13.4 12.8
Garretson $45,971 33.9 35.8 14.3 13.3
Hill City $45,905 35.6 37.7 14.5 13.6
Canton $45,831 58.9 62.4 15.0 14.5
Northwestern Area $45,616 19.4 20.6 12.8 11.5
Avon $45,577 19.9 21.2 12.9 11.8
Kimball $45,448 23.3 25.0 13.2 11.7
Britton – Hecla $45,405 32.3 34.7 14.1 13.0
Langford Area $45,328 17.3 18.6 12.6 10.9
Milbank $44,954 60.6 65.6 15.0 13.9
De Smet $44,947 23.5 25.4 13.2 12.1
Henry $44,671 14.0 15.2 12.5 11.6
Hot Springs $44,366 54.3 59.4 15.0 13.5
Vermillion $44,206 81.4 89.4 15.0 13.8
Custer $44,055 58.2 64.1 15.0 13.5
Faith $43,821 15.4 17.0 12.5 11.5
Burke $43,388 17.4 19.4 12.6 11.4
Groton Area $43,374 39.4 44.1 14.9 13.5
Centerville $43,257 17.9 20.1 12.7 11.4
Alcester-Hudson $43,161 22.1 24.8 13.1 11.5
Gregory $43,141 28.6 32.1 13.7 11.9
Ipswich Public $42,982 28.0 32.0 13.6 11.5
Dupree $42,727 27.9 31.7 13.6 11.6
Deubrook $42,683 27.1 31.0 13.5 11.9
Rosholt $42,205 18.1 20.9 12.7 10.2
Mount Vernon $41,981 17.1 19.8 12.6 10.5
Redfield $41,972 42.2 48.8 15.0 13.2
Wall $41,899 20.0 23.1 12.9 11.2
Iroquois $41,858 17.6 20.4 12.6 10.6
Scotland $41,742 20.4 23.7 12.9 11.1
Wilmot $41,613 16.7 19.4 12.6 10.9
Bridgewater-Emery $41,605 24.9 29.0 13.3 11.4
Selby $41,409 14.6 17.1 12.5 10.3
Flandreau $41,286 44.7 52.8 15.0 12.4
Irene-Wakonda $40,838 22.1 26.3 13.1 10.6
Woonsocket $40,725 17.2 20.5 12.6 10.3
Howard $40,723 27.1 32.4 13.5 11.2
Clark $40,502 27.3 33.5 13.6 11.0
Miller $40,293 32.4 39.0 14.1 11.6
Parkston $40,139 37.2 45.2 14.7 11.9
Newell $40,039 24.7 29.9 13.3 11.1
Chamberlain $39,974 60.2 73.0 15.0 12.0
McLaughlin $39,837 33.9 41.3 14.3 11.8
Todd County $39,761 138.4 169.0 15.0 12.2
Wagner $39,467 55.4 68.1 15.0 11.9
McCook Central $39,070 26.6 33.3 13.5 10.7
Platte-Geddes $38,784 33.9 42.6 14.3 10.9
Canistota $38,685 17.2 21.5 12.6 9.8
Summit $38,425 12.2 15.5 12.5 9.1
Jones County $38,241 15.0 19.1 12.5 9.3
Highmore-Harrold $38,092 20.5 26.1 12.9 10.0
Timber Lake $38,075 25.8 32.9 13.4 10.4
Stanley County $38,053 30.7 39.1 13.9 11.1
Colome Consolidated $37,896 19.1 24.4 12.8 9.8
Agar-Blunt-Onida $37,889 20.9 26.8 12.9 10.0
Frederick Area $37,621 13.7 17.6 12.5 9.5
Sisseton $37,453 61.0 79.1 15.0 11.7
Armour $37,056 13.6 17.8 12.5 9.7
Andes Central $36,860 25.4 33.8 13.4 10.2
Bison $36,810 11.8 15.6 12.5 9.5
Bennett County $36,769 34.1 45.0 14.3 10.7
Corsica-Stickney $36,634 18.1 24.0 12.7 0.0
Marion $36,602 15.3 20.3 12.5 9.6
Hitchcock-Tulare $36,243 17.1 23.1 12.6 8.8
Smee $35,924 14.6 19.9 12.5 9.3
Harding County $35,890 15.5 21.0 12.5 8.5
Herreid $35,857 9.6 13.0 12.5 9.2
Bon Homme $35,735 36.1 49.2 14.5 10.6
Elkton $35,397 21.5 30.0 13.0 8.9
Waubay $35,328 13.8 19.0 12.5 8.2
Menno $35,313 21.7 30.1 13.0 9.4
Doland $35,277 14.3 20.1 12.5 8.3
Leola $35,119 15.8 22.4 12.5 8.2
Sanborn Central $35,066 15.3 21.3 12.5 8.7
Lyman $34,888 29.1 40.4 13.8 9.9
Edgemont $34,682 12.8 17.9 12.5 8.7
Oldham-Ramona $34,281 12.2 17.6 12.5 7.6
Kadoka Area $34,158 27.0 38.3 13.5 9.6
McIntosh $33,924 13.1 18.7 12.5 8.3
Willow Lake $33,865 17.3 25.3 12.6 8.2
Edmunds Central $33,695 10.6 15.2 12.5 8.6
White Lake $33,052 9.2 13.5 12.5 8.6
Lead-Deadwood $32,580 50.9 76.0 15.0 9.7
Bowdle $32,230 10.0 15.0 12.5 8.1
Big Stone City $31,994 8.1 12.2 12.5 7.8
White River $30,911 29.3 45.9 13.8 8.7
Lake Preston $30,592 13.1 20.8 12.5 7.8
Tripp-Delmont $29,849 14.3 23.3 12.5 7.1
Rutland $29,192 12.6 21.0 12.5 7.5
Eagle Butte $28,275 26.2 45.0 13.5 7.5
Hoven $28,218 9.0 15.4 12.5 7.0
Oelrichs $27,630 9.4 16.5 12.5 6.8
South Central $27,483 8.8 15.6 12.5 7.1
Grant-Deuel $27,047 7.6 13.7 12.5 6.1
Eureka $26,507 11.0 20.2 12.5 6.7
Elk Mountain $20,541 0.7 1.7 12.5 3.5
Statewide $46,880 9073.9 9430.1 14.5 13.8

The top potential payers include an interesting mix of large and small schools. Warner, 77th in size with just over 300 students, could offer the 13th-best salary in the state, $53,146. Warner would be just $32 below its big neighbor just ten miles to the north, Aberdeen, third largest with 4,470 students, which could offer the 11th-best teacher pay, $53,178.

Senators studying Senate Bill 131 for its as yet unscheduled hearing before Senate State Affairs should review this chart for insights (and errors!) and decide whether the new student-teacher-ratio-based formula is the best way to apportion the money we say we want to use to raise South Dakota’s teacher pay out of the national gutter.


27 Responses to 4 out of 5 SD School Districts Have More Teachers than Daugaard Teacher-Pay Plan Wants

  1. Roger Elgersma

    Do you really think a school board member will cut teachers when the governor is throwing more money at them? They have made cuts before and people cried about that and now to cut people when there is money will not happen.

  2. Donald Pay

    This is just another top-down approach to funding that hasn’t been thought out very well. What educational sense does it make to base anything on a phony idea like “target student teacher ratio?” Where’s the research regarding these “targets?” What site specific educational evidence do they have for setting these targets for each school?

    What this is going to do is to pit students against teachers. It creates a perverse incentive to not address student needs, if that might require additional staff. Student that need extra help that might require any additional staff is going to be seen as competing for teachers’ salaries. This is just awful. What needs to happen is a bottom-up approach, where student needs come first.

  3. There is a better answer and it is the Democratic plan.

  4. I know the drums of those who believe in school consolidation will begin to beat here.

    There are a couple of factors to take into account before that happens.

    1. What are the test scores of these schools?

    2. What is the geography of the area?

  5. Shouldn’t the chart also include a column that shows current average salary for each district?

    I would also note that the funds denoted for salary is only one of the possible sources a district has available for salaries.

  6. Mr. Winegar, so the Democrat plan has a good chance then, you think?

  7. O, I would love to add that column to the chart! I know that Section 26 of SB 131 would make that salary information available, but are those average salaries available in any public database right now? Or will I need to call 150 business managers and get those numbers?

  8. You would have to call Cory, or find a lot of July/August papers that list the salaries.

  9. Lanny V Stricherz

    So help me understand Cory, what does the Huron 58,394 mean? Is that the target average salary, or the top salary attainable in the district, or what?

    I hate to be a dunderhead, but what causes the huge disparity between districts?

  10. Lanny, not dunderheaded at all. Even I have to look at my formulas and results carefully to understand what these numbers mean.

    I get $58,394 for Huron by dividing the amount of revenue SB 131 provides for teacher salaries by the number of instruction staff Huron reports for the 2014–2015 school year. The number means that if Huron used its money in exactly the way the Governor’s plan envisions, including his estimates of benefits and administrative overhead, Huron would be able to pay its existing teachers an average yearly salary of $58,394.

    The fact that the number is so much higher than Daugaard’s target teacher salary of $48,500 means that Huron is running a tighter ship than the Governor expects—i.e., they have fewer teachers (a higher student–teacher ratio) than the Governor’s plan considers ideal. The Governor’s new funding formula would prescribe a 15.0 student–teacher ratio; by the numbers from the last school year, Huron has a 16.66 student–teacher ratio.

    Does that make sense, Lanny?

  11. Travis Wicks

    I know you can find last year’s average salary for each school district by going to the Dept. Of Ed’s website and perusing each school district’s profile on a download able PDF. That’s how I found neighboring school districts’ info when I was doing contract negotiations last year. I know that it’s possible to find a list that includes starting and average salary for all districts, but I don’t know where to find that.

  12. Roger Elgersma

    student teacher ratio will be different for the school district with ten kids in a class than if there are four sections of the same class. So a target for one might not be possible for another. To select a high student teacher ratio then transpose that on salary per teacher is just a little math game to make it show that a raise to 46k looks like a raise to 48.5k. This is math and not honestly. We need more honest people and they should also teach math.

  13. Lanny V Stricherz

    Yes, it does make sense Cory. It makes HB 1182 even more disingenuous thanI thought that it was. To think that a state government that is expanding at a rate of nearly 10%, expects its education force to detract by nearly that same percentage is not only disgusting. It is unconscionable.

    It appears to this senior taxpayer that this bill is more about getting more money for property tax relief and not at all about increasing teacher pay.

    Hey Joe, how do you like the raise we got? Oh, you got laid off? Sorry.

  14. Lanny, I put on my ill-fitting pragmatist’s hat and say you’re right: for some legislators, this plan is more about property tax relief. Some legislators don’t give a quarter-hoot for teachers. They think there is not teacher shortage, the schools get plenty of money already if not too much, and to heck with them. Those legislators will not vote to increase teacher pay; they will vote to cut property taxes. That’s all HB 1182 will be to them. That’s all they’ll mention in their campaign flyers. And that’s apparently what we have to offer to bring them to the table (strangely, cutting everyone’s tax on food isn’t enough).

  15. Lanny V Stricherz

    Well, you have to give the governor one thing. He found a way to solve the teacher shortage. Get rid of 10% of the teachers that we already have. That way they will be willing to work for less, next contract and if the tax increase passes there will be even more for property tax relief next year. Problem solved, what’s next?

  16. This governor is a 10%er fer sure! Remember the 10% cut of education when we had a ‘structural’ budget deficit? Cut 105 of our teachers and you’ll NEVER get ’em back until Democrats arre in power long enough to straighten out S Dakota’s deplorable tax structure designed by Republican “conservatives’…

  17. Looks like our schools are not only over staffed on administration. Looks like increase wages for some and cut 400 hundred position should balance out. No need for new taxes.

    Nice to see the gov looking at this like a business.

  18. Consider the educafion index that aligns state eduction systems acheivements with those of other nations. A South Dakota educarional system outcome equates with those outcomes in Mexico: https://www.good.is/articles/educational-state-map-international?utm_source=TSE&utm_medium=FB&utm_campaign=pd&utm_content=inf_10_81_2&tse_id=INF_3ccc9be62d2244ff93ec95be50a04f46

  19. larry kurtz

    Curious that the Drunks Without Charts blog has completely ignored editorials from South Dakota’s two biggest newspapers supporting Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard’s plan.

  20. Sam, jiminy crickets! Now you’re exploding an arbitrary number picked by the Governor into an ironclad criterion for proper staffing levels. Back the truck up: at no point in this entire debate has anyone—Governor, Blue Ribboneer, Democrat, the lunch ladies, anyone—addressed just how many teachers we ought to have per student. No one has shown evidence that (per the SB 131 formula), Henry ought to have 12.5 teachers per student, Wessington Springs ought to have 13.4, and Aberdeen ought to have 15.0. No one has produced evidence that the 120 schools that need to cut teachers to meet the funding criterion are providing shoddy education. As a matter of fact, the Blue Ribbon panel explicitly rejected that claim at the beginning of their deliberations when Senator Deb Soholt said teachers are doing good work and students are coming out of our K-12 system just fine.

    The Governor’s proposed funding formula does not prove that any school objectively has too many teachers or is running inefficiently. The Governor’ funding formula only proves that the Governor wants fewer teachers in South Dakota.

  21. Lanny V Stricherz

    “jiminy crickets”, Cory? You must be a lot older than I thought you are. I haven’t heard that one in at least 50 years.

  22. Still trying to keep the blog PG, Lanny. :-)

  23. Thank you for your work with all these numbers! It sickens me that our Gov. thinks we need fewer teachers. Loading teachers up with double the number of kids to a room to get to $48,000 is pretty frightening. It is clear our governor has no idea what goes on in a classroom. This will only lead to fewer and fewer teachers for obvious reasons–cuts, but also for mental reasons, as many will choose to leave that field rather than be worked to death for a reasonable salary. The mental stress of eliminating that many teachers and adding their workloads to an already overly full workload would be enough to make any sane person say there is a door calling my name. Our school has no place to cut. We did that back when the governor made cuts to education funding. We are now on that list as needing 6 fewer teachers. Wow. Just wow! Perhaps we need to put Dennis in a typical classroom of 20 students–1 with autistic tendencies, 4 that need extra title help, 2 that are special education, 5 that come to school hungry and tired, and the rest being typical kids with some regular kid things going on. I’m certain he wouldn’t last an hour.

  24. Cory, I just read the following on keloland…
    http://www.keloland.com/news/article/education/amendments-to-education-funding-bill-holds-school-districts-accountable

    Help me clarify this, if we look at Florence as an example with the numbers you have. Will 85% of the total new money ($187,659) go to the teachers? Or would 85% of the percent increase (14%) go to the teachers? If we assume Florence has an average teacher salary of $37,500 currently and has 19 teachers on staff. Increasing their salary by taking 85% of $187,659 would be about $159,510. Divide that up by 19 teachers for raise of $8395.27/teacher. If we take 85% of 14% that would an 11.9% raise on $37,500 equaling $4462.50/teacher.

  25. Hi, Bill B! Remarkably, Don Jorgensen gets his math right. As written, HB 1182 requires that the percentage increase in average teacher pay be at least 85% of the percentage increase in state aid. Here’s the language from the bill itself: “For each school district, the district’s increase in average teacher compensation from fiscal year 2016 to 2017 shall be equal to at least eighty-five percent of the district’s increase in state aid to general education funding, as defined in subdivision (2), from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2017.” Remember, this is floor, not ceiling.

    Now let’s step carefully, because sometimes we get confused between the total local need calculated and the part of that coming from the state. According to DOE, Florence’s average teacher salary last year was $35,712. Florence will get $191,173 in additional money from the state out of a new total local need of $1,525,738. But remember, 53.8% of that local need is the state’s share, which should be (1525738-191173)*53.8% = $717,996. If those numbers are close to correct, the increase in state aid is really 26.6%. Florence has to increase teacher pay at least (85%*26.6%) = 22.6%, to at least $43,783.

    To reach $43,783 as an average salary, Florence must spend $8,071 more per teacher, for a total of $155,347, which is only 81.3% of the actual new dollars on the table. If Florence spends all of the new money on teacher salaries, they could raise their teachers’ average salary to $45,774.

    However, the new formula in SB 131 assumes that schools spend 59% of their cash on salaries, 17% on benefits, and 24% on overhead. The above 85% requirement seems to break that formula.

    Am I on the right track with these calculations?

  26. Cory, those salaries are from 2014/2015. If Florence received a raise of $1500 for this year 2015/2016, that would raise their average up to $37,712 (I don’t know if they did, but just putting out a hypothetical situation). Then the school district would only need to raise their average teacher salary of $43,783 for a total increase of $6071 more per teachers? Doesn’t using old average salaries decreases how much the school district must use towards teachers in this case? That would allow another $1500x19teachers=$28,500 to be used in other areas.

  27. $1500 is a liberal guess, Bill B. The state wide increase in average salary from 2014 to 2015 appeared to be only $857, about 2.1%. Your $1500 guess at Florence would have been 4.1%.

    Yes, the numbers we’re talking about, including the numbers the Governor used in his State of the State Address, are flawed in relying on older salary averages and not current salary averages. However, the increases in state aid that I’m talking about are based on amounts promised under SB 131 over current K-12 local need.

    Using old averages doesn’t actually decrease the amount of money school districts will have to use on teacher salaries. Under the numbers we’re playing with here, Florence will still have to raise its teacher salaries 22.6%. If their average salary right now is higher than the $35,712 that I used above, then they will have to raise their salaries even higher.

    Consider, too, that the 85% requirement is problematic if the school district has several retirements and replaces them mostly with fresh teachers with only a couple years experience. Under a traditional salary schedule where years of service and additional credits/degrees move teachers up the scale, replacing a lot of veteran teachers with a lot of rookies could reduce the average district-wide salary, even if everyone gets more money than they would have at the corresponding step the year before. I don’t know how big that variance will be—maybe it’s just a matter of a few percentage points. But school boards will need to watch how personnel changes affect their compliance with that 85% requirement.