K-12 Vacancies Down, Pay Up; So When Do We Bring Back Buses?

That Sioux Falls paper reported this week that unfilled K-12 teaching positions continue to run lower this year than last. In June, South Dakota had 186 vacant K-12 teaching jobs, 13% fewer than in June 2015.

Call it your tax dollars at work: our new half-penny state sales tax has allowed Vermillion to raise its average teacher pay for the 2016–2017 school year by $5,000, a 13% increase from the school year just ended.

But don’t let your legislators or Governor Daugaard pretend that they solved everything in K-12 funding this year. As an article in Tuesday’s Aberdeen paper reminds us, kids who live within five miles of Aberdeen city limits get no free school bus service. The Aberdeen school district cut that service during the second Janklow regime. Kids within 2.5 miles of city limits can catch a ride on the city’s Ride Line bus, but that service costs $2 each way, or $708 a year. We may have cut our school spending, but we’ve only forced those costs onto private citizens and the entities that subsidize the city bus service.

Aberdeen’s lack of busing is just one example of the many services we’ve taken away from kids and parents in our K-12 system over the last couple decades of austerity. This year’s sales tax increase put some money back into teacher salaries, but even in that area, the new funding formula assumes districts will employ 300 fewer teachers statewide, a decrease in teaching staff of over 3%.

Raising teacher pay to recruit and retain more teachers is great, but this year’s increased K-12 funding is only a first step toward restoring what school districts have had to sacrifice over decades of neglect in K-12 funding from Pierre.

5 Responses to K-12 Vacancies Down, Pay Up; So When Do We Bring Back Buses?

  1. Darin Larson

    Cory, what kind of backward town are you living in where they don’t have school bus service within 5 miles of city limits? Can you pay to ride the school bus if you live within 5 miles of the city?

    It is pretty inefficient for the community to have each parent arranging private transportation for each kid. Walking to school in an Aberdeen winter is not an appealing option either. And don’t you want to encourage school access and attendance?

    Maybe it is a small school advantage, but our local small town school buses many of the young kids (5-6 grade and down) that live in town as well as anyone outside of the city.

  2. Ryan maher

    You should come west river and try 40 or 50 miles one way to school. And you are complaining about two miles.

  3. Ryan, does your school district provide bus service to those kids 40–50 miles out? I’m talking about a service our school district used to provide to a number of students that it had to cut for budgetary reasons.

  4. Darin Larson

    State law says that a school district has to bus kids within their District that are more than so many miles of the school. It is something like 5 miles. Kids that are 40 or 50 miles away by law have to be bused.

  5. Ryan maher

    If they don’t bus they pay mileage to the school or to the closet bus stop. But down in Faith those kids come in from over 50 miles out. And west of Timber lake the next closet school in Bison and that’s 80 miles. Timber Lake runs a bus to Isabel so those out west Isabel travel about 30 miles then get on a bus for the next 20 miles.