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Mobridge-Pollock Shows Blue Ribbon Panel Obvious Answer: Pay Teachers More!

Why didn’t Governor Dennis Daugaard pick Mobridge-Pollock Superintendent Tim Frederick for the Blue Ribbon K-12 task force? Superintendent Frederick knows the answer to South Dakota’s teacher shortage: pay teachers more!

Mobridge-Pollock is using its federal Impact Aid to give its teachers and administrators $2,000 signing bonuses. Non-teaching staff are getting $750 signing bonuses.

Frederick brought this plan to his board because competition for new teachers is getting “ruthless”:

“In all my years in education I have never seen anything like this,” said Frederick. “With everything online, districts needing teachers can see what they are getting paid in other districts. It has become ruthless in trying to get qualified teachers in the state.”

He said he recently attended a graduation and was amazed at the small number of education majors graduating from a state school. He voiced his concern about bringing and keeping quality instructors to Mobridge-Pollock. He said keeping qualified instructors is a priority and what is best for the district [Katie Zerr, “Board Approves Staff Compensation,” Mobridge Tribune, 2015.05.13].

Governor Daugaard won’t go for the Mobridge-Pollock plan, since federal Impact Aid is not a steady revenue stream. But the plan sounded good to Frederick’s board:

Board president Harry “Bingo” Kindt said it was time to take steps to retain good employees by showing them appreciation for staying in the district.

“It is going to get harder and harder for us to keep our teachers, let alone hire new ones,” he said, “especially in the critical areas” [Zerr, 2015.05.13].

I’d be happy to see every teacher in South Dakota get a $2,000 raise. However, adding that amount would still leave South Dakota ranking 51st in teacher pay. It would lift us less than a quarter of the way to the average pay in our nearest dollar-competition, North Dakota. Superintendent Frederick himself will tell you the extra dollars aren’t enough to solve all of Mobridge-Pollock’s hiring issues:

The district has two high school math positions open that, if filled, would also qualify for the signing bonus.

“We’re still looking,” Frederick said. “It’s the hard-to-fill positions — the science, the math, the special education.”

…The bonus wasn’t enough to get some teachers to stay, Frederick said.

“If young kids have opportunities to maybe get closer to their families, maybe make more money, they’re going to go,” Frederick said. “In our case here in Mobridge, that’s kind of what it was” [Katherine Grandstrand, “Teachers Get $2,000 Signing Bonus in Mobridge,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.06.28].

Signing bonuses won’t convince every teacher to move to Mobridge, but they are a step in the right direction. Listen to Mobridge, Blue Ribboneers—raise teacher pay!


  1. mike from iowa 2015-06-29 07:02

    Wingnuts need to go on a grade school level field trip to a petting zoo where they can frolic with baby tax animals to see just how soft and cuddly and non-threatening taxes rilly are. They have this innate,irrational fear of taxes thanks to wicked fairy god mother Gwover Norquistand Uncle Ronnie Raygun.

  2. Roger Cornelius 2015-06-29 13:23

    How many sticky notes will it take to say, “raise teachers pay now”?

  3. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-06-29 13:50

    I wonder if small towns might consider some of the things preachers often receive? That could include free housing and utilities.

    Small towns loathe losing their schools to consolidation, and school events like music concerts and sports draw all age groups, regardless of age. So I wonder if the entire town might get behind such a plan? A small amount would be added on to each utility bill each month for everyone in the school district through out the year to cover the costs for a few teachers.

    Of course, the best answer is legislative action to raise pay and forgive a portion of student debt annually.

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