I find two interesting statistics so far in the report on how well South Dakota’s public K-12 school districts met the state’s accountability standards for putting the new sales tax revenue appropriated in 2016 toward teacher pay.
First, the 34 school districts* that failed one or both of the requirements all managed to increase teacher pay. The average teacher-pay increase among those 36 districts was 13.5%. The 113 fully complaint districts raised teacher pay by 13.6%. Both groups of school districts managed to raise their average teacher pay by an average of over $5,000. The difference between the compliant and non-compliant districts is thus pretty small.
Second, all of the non-compliant schools and 101 of the compliant schools failed to reach the state’s target salary of $48,500. Only 12 schools managed to reach $48,500 (and one, Douglas, was already above target in FY2016):
- Brandon Valley
- Dakota Valley
- Eagle Butte
- Oglala Lakota
- Rapid City
- Sioux Falls
I’m looking at some other averages, but without teacher counts from each school, I can only figure averages by district, which tamp down the effect of lots of teachers making bigger salaries at larger schools. Working just with those averages by district, I can say that, prior to the sales tax hike, in FY2016, the average teacher salary at the now non-compliant districts was $1,144 below the average at districts that were able to comply with the state’s new rules. In FY2017, that gap widened to $1,364.
That widening gap suggests that the new funding formula is having the effect some smaller schools have suggested the Governor and legislators may have intended: directing more money toward large schools and quietly starving small schools toward consolidation.
*The schools who failed to meet one or both of the accountability standards are mostly small schools. The only Class AA school in trouble is Pierre:
- Edmunds Central
- Jones County
- New Underwood
- Sanborn Central
- White River
- Willow Lake
**Correction 2017.10.14 12:30 CDT: I thought Lead-Deadwood’s presence on that report sounded funny. As the Mitchell Daily Republic reports, Lead-Deadwood and Hoven don’t receive state aid. DOE listed those two districts’ teacher pay stats correctly, but since they don’t receive state aid, they don’t face any penalty for not meeting their teacher-pay targets.