I feel like Governor Daugaard is using IM22 the way Donald Trump uses Twitter: to distract us from his policy failures. Trump flunks foreign policy by tweaking China with his Taiwan phone call, without any clear plan for using that tweakage to get something, so he decides to attack Boeing’s work on the most important airplane in the world. Governor Daugaard runs into budget trouble again, so he blasts IM22 and voters for daring to spend money on a state ethics commission. Ah, sweet sensationalism!
But let’s not miss one of the big budget busts in the Governor’s budget address, the early abandonment of the Blue Ribbon teacher pay plan. I mentioned our failure to achieve regionally competitive teacher pay in yesterday’s IM22 post; let’s look at the numbers in more detail here.
- Daugaard’s budget proposes $6,846,447 in new state funding for K-12 schools in Fiscal Year 2018, a 1% increase over FY2017.
- Suppose 85% of that new money goes toward teacher salaries next year.
- Suppose also that school districts finally get with the Governor’s program and cut teachers instead of adding them, and, based on current student numbers and the Governor’s student/teacher ratio formula, contract with 9,174.16 full-time equivalents.
- We can give each public school teacher a $634 raise.
- The Governor says our current average teacher pay is $46,924.
- My empirical data suggest that average is actually $46,613.
- The new funding could thus raise South Dakota’s average pay to between $47,247 and $47,558.
- The current statutory target for South Dakota average teacher pay is $48,500.
- Splitting the difference between a cited inflation rate of 0.3% and anticipated inflation of 1.5% to 2.5% in the next two years, Governor Daugaard proposes raising the target average teacher pay 1% to $48,985.
- By anyone’s numbers, for the second year in a row, we will fall more than $1,000 short of the target average teacher pay that our sales tax increase was supposed to get us.
- Governor Daugaard did say it would take time to reach the target, and his FY2018 funding does get us closer to the target. At this rate, we should reach that target by 2028.
- But remember what I said under Point 3 about getting rid of teachers? If schools accept that Daugaard axe and chop off 480 teachers, they can redistribute another $22.4 million to the remaining FTEs.
- That fire-and-share could add another $2,450 to every teacher’s check, vaulting us possibly a thousand dollars over the target average teacher salary.
- Even under fire-and-share, we remain last in the region, $1,000 behind North Dakota, and nearly $8,000 behind Minnesota.
So really, Governor Daugaard isn’t abandoning his teacher-pay plan. He’s sticking to his target to keep us last in the region for teacher pay and his claim that South Dakota has too many teachers. But because the local districts are putting kids ahead of the Governor’s timid and arbitrary pay target, we will not attain the Governor’s teacher pay goal in FY2018.