Flandreau Loses Science Teacher to Minnesota’s Moral Wages

Legalizing pot won’t solve the teacher shortage. The Flandreau Public Schools are short a science teacher because they can’t pay enough to keep Chelsey Loney from leaving for a comparable job in Minnesota:

Chelsey Loney, another South Dakota teacher lost to Minnesota's better pay
Chelsey Loney, another South Dakota teacher lost to Minnesota’s better pay

“There are two main reasons for my departure,” Loney wrote in her letter to the school board. “The first is to be closer to family … The other reason is the substantial pay increase teachers of other states receive. Unfortunately, until salary increases occur in Flandreau and statewide, resignations like mine will be a routine occurrence. Geographically, professionally, and financially this opportunity could not be passed up” [Carleen Wild, “How to Hold on to Good People,” Moody County Enterprise, 2015.07.07].

Average teacher pay in South Dakota: $40,023. Average teacher pay in Minnesota: $54,752. Average boost for teachers like Loney jumping the border: 36.8%, $14,729, enough to cover a 30-year mortgage on a $200K house (median home value in Minnesota: $187,000). Flandreau was able to get Loney to ignore those economics for just two years.

Neighboring Colman-Egan has no openings at the moment, but low pay is making it hard for them to recruit teachers and support staff:

Superintendent Tracey Olson feels confident they have all positions filled at Colman-Egan, however, “I know that I have a couple of teachers looking elsewhere due to the high cost of insurance here and the pay. Late resignations after July 1st always put us in a bind more-so than an early one. We have more challenges than just the teaching staff. We are also short a custodian and a bus driver. When applicants find out the salary they are no longer interested” [Wild, 2015.07.07].

Olson, Flandreau superintendent Rick Weber, and Loney all agree that we can’t get around this problem without giving K-12 schools and teachers more money:

[Loney] said that if she was to quit teaching right now and become a scientist, she’d make double her salary and have triple the respect.

“When you tell people you’re a teacher, they say, ‘I’m sorry.’ We need to give respect and honor back to that profession. Part of that is paying them more, understanding what they do and respecting what they do” [Wild, 2015.07.07].

Blue Ribboneers! Enough foreplay! You know what to do, and have since 1968. Pay teachers what every other state in the Union recognizes they are worth.

Updated 07:21 CDT: Dang, maybe Rep. Elizabeth May (R-27/Kyle) has the right idea in calling for a special session. Meet August 17, add money to teacher salaries just in time for the beginning of the school year, rectify South Dakota’s long teacher-pay drought. “The urgency of this, we can’t ignore it,” May says. “The immediate issues that need to be addressed are going to be what are we going to do with the teacher shortage to fill these classrooms up” (good!) “and the funding, the mechanism for the funding” (good!) “and we also need to address the state and federal mandates that have been coming down” (uh oh!). Stay tuned for Rep. May’s press conference this morning in Rapid City.

12 Responses to Flandreau Loses Science Teacher to Minnesota’s Moral Wages

  1. Travis Wicks

    I’ll hold my breath on the special session actually happening.

  2. omg- where’s the press conf. so i can avoid the possibility of being caught there in cross-fire from may and her carrying/concealed ilk on the off-chance they think they might have to defend themselves with mortal force?

  3. The deadbeats in Pierre don’t care about the mess they’ve created by completely neglecting teacher pay. They are and have always been at war with keeping our public school system competent.

    Here’s another canary keeling over in the Dakota coalmine. South Dakota experienced a 17 percent increase this year compared to 2014 in homelessness. Here is the article in the Mitchell Daily Republic:

    We got it sooooo good right here in South Dakota, right! Glad you don’t live in Minnesota?

    That’s where smart people in government figured out how to reduce homelessness by 17 percent in the same time period South Dakota allowed it to increase 17 percent. They got it done despite being crippled by a personal and corporate income tax. How could they do that? Read it here: http://www.startribune.com/smart-strategies-are-reducing-homelessness-among-minnesota-families/312657381/

    Since South Dakota, according to governors and GOP legislators since 1978, is sooooo much better off with its tax system and superior economic development climate, why the massive failure with homelessness in South Dakota compared to Minnesota?

    I’ve decided that the political appointees in Pierre are completely incompetent. They seem to collect paychecks (and for special friends, no bid contracts and special deals!) and get nothing done. Governor DD, you are poorly served. Fire the cabinet and the other deadbeats and hire competent people.

    The clock is ticking and income tax-crippled Minnesota is making you look like an idiot, DD.

  4. Don Coyote

    “…if she was to quit teaching right now and become a scientist, she’d make double her salary and have triple the respect.”

    Seriously? She’s going to become a scientist with a Bachelor’s degree in biology? Sorry but that doesn’t even qualify her to teach at a college level. My oldest daughter has a PhD in chemistry (and is a scientist … says so on the plaque on her desk ;-) ) and she is barely making double the base wage of a Flandreau teacher. That’s while working 11 months out of the year not 9 months. Bachelor’s degree? Fuggitaboutit.

    It’s interesting to note her primary reason for leaving is to be closer to family (she’s from Iowa) but she got her degree from SDSU. Why would that be? ISU in Ames (not far from her town of Humboldt IA) charges about $3k less tuition for residents than SDSU does for non-residents. She seems to need to work on her budget planning process a little.

  5. boy don, you is sharp as a tack (attack, get it?)

    republican, init as larry (and about 80,000 other residents) say…?

  6. happy camper

    Minnesota and South Dakota used to, maybe still have reciprocity on college tuition.

  7. Hey, 96: Minnesota didn’t just bus its homeless people to South Dakota, did it?

  8. Oh, there goes Don with the old 9-months-a-year fib. Read the article: Loney herself says she has been working through the summer on materials for class.

    And even if Don’s fib held water, it would hold just as much water in Minnesota as in South Dakota, and Minnesota pays more, enough to entice Loney to give up her tenure track here (tenure! in South Dakota K-12! ha!), uproot, pack, and move.

    And Don, really, SDSU’s tuition (whether cheaper by reciprocity or more expensive) does not at all indict Loney’s budgeting skills. Your attempt to attack Loney personally (which epitomizes the disrespect for teachers Loney identifies, and which you do while hiding behind a pseudonym, which is cowardly and dishonorable) does nothing to indict her rational choice to reject South Dakota’s underpayment in favor of a state that respects all teachers more. Insult-kings won’t win this debate or pass legislation that will address the teacher shortage. They’ll just make the teacher shortage worse. Thanks for nothing, Don.

  9. It seems that we have two pressing problems in South Dakota. Teacher pay and physician shortages. The state government isn’t willing to pay teachers a living wage and we lack resources to recruit well qualified physicians for this state, especially in rural areas.
    Cuba has become the World’s supplier of cheap educational and health care workforce needs. They are well known in many parts of the world for their abundance of physicians and educators for export (They even have a little known program that has Americans being educated in Havana to help solve physician shortages in the South). Cuba is willing to export their citizens to other countries, where they receive opportunity, a better salary, and incentives when they return home.
    Maybe its time for Daugaard to knock on the Castro’s door to solve his problems. I keep in contact with a recent university graduate that I met while I was in Cuba, he would love to come here for a job at the SD teacher salary.
    Solving conservative problems through socialism.

  10. Donald Pay

    Don Coyote has an elitist view of who qualifies as a scientist. There are quite a few science jobs that anyone with a BS in Biology can get. No, these aren’t going to be the research positions, but many researchers do very little of the day by day work required for their research. That work is done by “lab rats” who have BS degrees.

    Many people get their BS in Biology and find field or lab oriented work. The pay at entry level positions is probably not much more than a beginning teacher makes, but there is a huge upside if you are hired on at a startup or established biotech or drug company. Most bio majors have an adequate amount of lab experience in bio and chem to go right into work at a stem cell company, a medical lab, etc. If not, people can go to a tech school and get specific training in about 6 months. If your more field oriented, there are state and federal jobs. Many people with BS degrees in biology do a 2-4 years of work, then go to grad school, often on the company’s dime.

  11. You know, MD, Daugaard might actually be open to importing teachers from Cuba. He rolled with EB-5 development importing dairy (and casino?) workforce from overseas. He’s been fine with pipeline projects that import contractors from elsewhere and create no lasting jobs for long-term South Dakotans. He might relish the opportunity to bring in guest workers to supplant full-time local teachers.

    The key to workforce development for Daugaard and Rounds has been to promote projects that are windfalls for their grateful corporate leaders who can be counted on to donate and vote SDGOP while making sure that the workforce consists of people who (a) don’t make enough money to get involved in politics or (b) are outsiders who can be kept marginalized and thus won’t upset the political balance. Undermining the SDEA with foreign teachers would be a great step in that direction.