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SD Teacher Pay May Jump from 51st to 43rd; Still Last in Region

Governor Dennis Daugaard says his plan to raise teacher pay is working:

“There’s a variation in the kinds of increases we’re seeing, but no question across the board we’re seeing increases everywhere and substantial ones,” Gov. Dennis Daugaard said.

The State doesn’t have all the new teacher pay numbers compiled yet, but Governor Dennis Daugaard is happy with the reports he is hearing so far. The new law requires 85 percent of the new money to go to teachers.

“School districts have that standard they have to meet. There’s a tool online that they can use to make sure they’re meeting the standard and I’m seeing it being met by school districts all across the board,” Daugaard said [Erich Schaffhauser, “Teacher Pay Numbers,” KELO-TV, 2016.05.15].

The Governor’s new funding formula (see 2016 Senate Bill 131) calls for South Dakota’s average K-12 teacher pay to reach $48,500 in the next school year. According to the new NEA Rankings of the States 2015 and Estimates of School Statistics 2016, that would represent an average raise for South Dakota teachers of $6,475, or 15.4%, over the current estimated teacher salary.

National Education Association, "Rankings & Estimates: Rankings of the States 2015 and Estimates of School Statistics 2016," May 2016, p. 92.
National Education Association, “Rankings & Estimates: Rankings of the States 2015 and Estimates of School Statistics 2016,” May 2016, p. 92. (Click to embiggen!)

According to the NEA data, the nationwide average teacher salary has risen 18.3% since the 2005–2006 school year. That’s an annual rate of 1.69%. If that decade trend continues for the rest of the nation in the coming school year, reaching $48,500 in South Dakota would jump our teachers from 51st to 43rd in the nation. $48,500 would be 82.1% of the projected national average teacher salary of $59,048.

Jumping up eight spots nationally would still leave us in the regional basement:

State current estimated average teacher salary projected 2016–2017 (SB 131 target in SD; 1.69% growth elsewhere)
Iowa $54,416 $55,338
Minnesota $56,910 $57,874
Montana $51,215 $52,083
Nebraska $51,364 $52,234
North Dakota $50,237 $51,088
South Dakota $42,025 $48,500
Wyoming $57,761 $58,740

The Governor’s new funding formula will close the gap significantly with North Dakota and other neighboring states, but we will remain the only state in the region not valuing teachers enough to pay them in the fifties.

The goal of this year’s teacher pay plan was to pay our teachers regionally competitive wages. As predicted, SB 131 leaves us losing that competition. The Governor and the Legislature are raising teacher pay, but not enough. If we’re serious about recruiting and retaining the best teachers, we need to return to Pierre in 2017 and raise teacher pay to the regional median, more like $53,000. We can lift ourselves from last place in the nation; now let’s lift ourselves from last place in the region.


  1. Steve Sibson 2016-05-16 12:59

    “The Governor and the Legislature are raising teacher pay, but not enough.”

    That is right Cory. When it comes to Educrats, there is never enough money. I have never seen coveting reach such a high fevered pitch.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-05-16 18:36

    Steve, that’s a false and thoughtless attack. There is “enough”—we’ll get there when we pay South Dakota teachers a genuinely competitive wage, giving teachers what the market says teachers are worth in the rest of the country. As long as South Dakota undervalues teachers, I will keep asking for more, because the market demands it.

  3. mike from iowa 2016-05-16 18:44

    Took thirty years to get the fevered high pitch.

    Or thirty years to blast through thick skulled wingnut heads.

  4. owen reitzel 2016-05-16 19:33

    Do we consider education a high priority or not. it real is that simple.
    Steve’s answer is no. Let’s go back to one-room school houses and pay teachers next to nothing.
    As a state to we progress or stagnate or even worse-take steps backward?

    “Coveting isn’t the right word.” Teachers want what anybody else wants with their education and experience. For years teachers have warned what was going to happen and now it is. A teacher shortage. Even Daugaard and other Republicans finally realized it.

  5. grudznick 2016-05-16 20:13

    Probably no. The whining got the money it deserved and then some. My guess is more whining won’t get more money next year. But that’s just my guess.

  6. owen reitzel 2016-05-16 20:25

    Whining?? Not at all

  7. grudznick 2016-05-16 20:47

    Years of whining, minutes of gratitude for the fleecing of everybody in South Dakota’s pockets to line those of a few.

    Mr. reitzel, that will be the undoing. Let it be a cautionary tale, but if fellows like Mr. H go into the legislatures next year without the calming and sane advice of Mr. Novstrup and his fellows and pound their fists on the table and wave their arms during shrill speeches, let grudznick here be on record saying it will end poorly for the teachers.

    I’m just sayin…

  8. owen reitzel 2016-05-16 21:03

    Years and decades of fighting for what was right Grud-not whining. Not just for the teachers but for the students as well

    I assume your priority isn’t very high when it comes to funding education.

  9. grudznick 2016-05-16 21:08

    Mr. reitzel, my feeling as well explained here is that people should get paid what they can get paid and if they don’t like it they should get a better job or work harder. Not join unions or whine. That’s socialism.

    Work harder. Whine less. Get more money. That’s the key.

    That said, I am glad for your daughter and hope she is getting more money. Lots more money.

  10. Donald Pay 2016-05-16 21:17

    Yeah, I don’t think “whining” is the right word. It’s been pretty clear since about 1999 that the education funding formula passed in the mid-1990s was leading to a conundrum for local districts. Either they cut programs for kids or they shortchanged teacher salary increases. Anyone who paid attention to facts, which have been collected by the state (not teachers), saw what was happening. Grudz, of course, like much of the Legislature, ain’t interested in facts. Finally, I guess, the facts became too glaring that even the dead beats in the state legislature couldn’t deny them.

    The data indicate there is still a problem with teacher salaries. Grudz, of course, ain’t interested in the data, but for others who are, it wouldn’t hurt to consider fixing the problem with a long-term strategy on the order of what was done for state employees back in the 1980s.

  11. Jenny 2016-05-16 21:36

    It’s true Sibby there never is enough money for education. Haven’t you seen all the old schools around the country that need to be replaced? Even in MN, state funding to the tune of 500 million dollars for a new NFL stadium was more important than putting it towards school infrastructure.
    SD teachers have every right to fight for dollars.

  12. grudznick 2016-05-16 21:40

    Mr. Pay, there is not now nor will there ever be nuclear waste dumped down The Borehole, which will soon be dug in Spink County.

    However, the whining and greed from the teachers’ union will not stop soon.

  13. Donald Pay 2016-05-16 21:53

    Well, Grudz, the federal Department of Energy has produced documents indicating that northeast South Dakota is the best place to dispose of radioactive waste through a deep borehole. I tend to believe the information that DOE has spent nearly a decade collecting and analyzing. And, similarly, I tend to look at data and information to form my ideas about teacher salaries and education funding. You, on the other hand, tend to make things up. The data do indicate, Grudz, that, if South Dakota teachers whine and are greedy, they are very bad at it.

  14. Greg 2016-05-16 21:53

    Give them what they want, they will want more.

  15. grudznick 2016-05-16 22:02

    Indeed, Mr. Pay. Your last point there bears some deeper consideration. I shall ponder that perplexity, and also what style of tin foil hat I should devise. Any advice on that?

  16. Curt 2016-05-16 22:21

    Grudz – Your old well worn head covering will work just fine.

  17. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-05-16 23:38

    I imagine that I got on the band wagon for higher teacher pay back when I was a volunteer reading mentor at Hawthorne Elementary here in Sioux Falls starting in the mid 1990s. And I probably whined about it longer and more often than anyone on this blog.

    But dumb me. I thought that it would come from a rescinding of the freeze on property taxes not from adding tax to those who make less and in many cases a lot less than the teachers. And that the increased tax would even go onto folks groceries.

    But as I said, dumb me, little did I realize that the kicker that the governor, and those in favor of the sales tax increase, would use the carrot of giving 40% of the sales tax increase to give more property tax relief to those who already have it better than the poor schmucks who are helping to foot the bill for the teachers’ raises and the rich guys property tax relief.

    You can call this a liberal blog all that you want to and those posting on here can call yourselves progressive or liberal or whatever you want to call yourselves, but if that is liberal or progressive, then they better change the definition in the dictionary.

  18. Mark Winegar 2016-05-17 06:25

    Governor Dennis Daugaard got into the competitive game of recruiting the best and the brightest teachers but he missed the target completely. If we are to compete we have to compete within our region where we still rank dead last. Let’s go back and get some more for our children.

  19. mike from iowa 2016-05-17 06:50

    Lanny, no offense, but, I seem to have missed your point about the guv’s plan and liberals.

    I don’t know that anyone who is liberal is happy with the increase in sales tax. The main objective was to finally increase teacher pay and there were several good ideas floated here on how to accomplish that w/o sales tax increase.

    I wasn’t aware the guv’s plan was put to a vote so no one here voted for it. The point I’m missing is how the end result makes DFP non-liberal. Help me out here.

  20. Steve Sibson 2016-05-17 07:52

    “giving teachers what the market says teachers are worth”

    Calling public education a “market” is false and thoughtless. The teachers are being used as pawns to continue the tax and spend agenda that benefit cronies.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-05-17 08:45

    Donald Pay properly reminds us of the two decades of cuts that took place following the last funding formula overhaul. This year’s teacher-pay plan does little to restore those program cuts. We aren’t bringing back gifted education, foreign languages, shop classes, or the other classes we lost. The new funding formula and the half-penny sales tax only allow us to bring the teachers who are left up toward competitive salaries. Raising teacher pay to truly competitive levels is only half the battle; we also have to rebuild the programs we cut and rebuild the competitiveness of our educational offerings.

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-05-17 08:48

    Lanny, this is still a liberal blog. I agree with you that we are raising teacher pay with a regressive tax. I agree with you that buying this plan with tax breaks mostly for commercial property owners is odious. I agree with you that we need progressive tax reform.

    We need to elect a whole new corps of liberal, progressive, Democratic legislators so that we are forced into fewer bad compromises like HB 1182/SB 131 to meet our states needs.

  23. Donald Pay 2016-05-17 09:13

    Cory draws the right conclusion. The new formula and the sales tax increase will not undo the damage of twenty years of underfunding education and a bad funding formula. Schools that once had outstanding programs for students have had to hollow out those programs or cut them completely.

    Then we have to deal with whatever consequences the new funding formula brings. In a few years you may see the new funding formula eating away at small schools and rural communities, bringing on other problems.

  24. Steve Sibson 2016-05-17 09:13

    “We need to elect a whole new corps of liberal, progressive, Democratic legislators so that we are forced into fewer bad compromises like HB 1182/SB 131 to meet our states needs.”

    That is not pragmatic Cory. Most of the liberal, progressive politicians are in the SDGOP. They call themselves conservative free market advocates, but are really liberal corporate capitalists who use public/private partnerships in order to centralize power and money in an administered economic/political system. Perhaps you should switch parties, since you believe public education is a “market”. You would fit in nicely.

  25. Steve Sibson 2016-05-17 09:16

    “In a few years you may see the new funding formula eating away at small schools and rural communities”

    It already has, as that is the agenda. The new programs are mostly based on subsidizing the global economic elites, and allowing their control of society. Education is no longer about education, it is about “skills” that the economic elites can use to make money.

  26. mike from iowa 2016-05-17 09:28

    That is not pragmatic Cory.

    It wasn’t in favor of gun rights either.

  27. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-05-17 09:32

    Really, Cory? “Still a liberal blog, need to elect more Democrats”? Perhaps you need to look at HB1116. One of the cosponsors of that bill, who also happens to be a sponsor now of your blog, and happens to be my state representative and is running for Senate as a Democrat, sat on the taxation committee which heard this bill.

    The Republicans were tied 6 for and 6 against on a motion to refer this piece of garbage to the 41st day. If 2 of the three Democrats vote yea the bill is dead. But they all three voted nay and then vote yea on the motion to refer to the full legislature and the full legislature then voted to send it on to the Senate. The Senate committee referred it to the floor for approval. Luckily, the full Senate could see the frivolity of allowing municipalities, which already have the power to opt out of the freeze on property taxes and have 2 pennies of sales tax on everything including food, the ability to add a third penny of sales tax.

    When I emailed him as to why he sponsored this bill and then voted the way he and the Dems did in committee, he emailed me back something to the effect that if I was going to complain about every vote that he made, (this was the only one on which I complained), then I shouldn’t bother him.

    Yes vote for Dems and nothing will change, because just like at the federal level, some special interest groups always have the ear of the pols and the pols will do their bidding, rather than do what is right.

    The right thing would have been to remove the freeze on property taxes and you know it and so do all the other so called liberals.

  28. Steve Sibson 2016-05-17 10:16

    Lanny, it is common knowledge that Democrats are tax and spend liberals. What most don’t know is that most Republicans are the same. If my memory is right, there was only one Democrat who voted against the sales tax increase in the name of teacher pay. The thing I heard Democrats complain about, was that it should have been a full 1 cent increase, which is a 25% increase to the current 4 penny tax.

  29. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-05-17 11:00

    Sorry, Steve, but I could have supported that bill (which the Dems didn’t even try to get passed) a lot sooner than the one that they did pass. Property tax relief put on the backs of those least able to pay is not only not progressive, it is downright sinful.

    One Dem who complained about the bill that did pass, was Frerichs, a former leader of the party. But his complaint was that he was going to have to pay the 1/2 cent on his implement purchases. Joy Smolnisky of the South Dakota Budget and Policy Project pointed out, that with the property tax relief that he was getting, his sales tax on equipment was almost a wash.

  30. Steve Sibson 2016-05-17 11:16

    “it is downright sinful”

    Not really Lanny, the Bible says we are not suppose to discriminate by letting the poor off the hook. What is a sin is coveting, and that is exactly what the teachers did when they expected their neighbor to give the teachers more of their hard earned money. And that sin applies to income tax, property tax, and not just sales tax. What you liberals call “progressive” taxation is a sin in and of itself. A sales tax is the most Biblically sound method to pay unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

  31. Douglas Wiken 2016-05-17 11:29

    If the money sent to schools is used as a percentage increase to all salaries, the huge gap between starting salaries and those for 10 to 20 years will be maintained. The percentage increases are what drove school executive salaries to some of the top in the country. Percentage increases will do nothing to recruit new teachers which is what the ostensible need for all that money was to begin with.

  32. Jenny 2016-05-17 11:35

    Does the bible say anything about ‘thou shalt have dignity, pay the poor enough gold for their work to make ends meet’ Sibby?

  33. Jenny 2016-05-17 11:37

    Sibby’s bible apparently says ‘screw the poor, thou shalt give them but meager pennies. Whip them into hard work, for it is by god’s holy miracle that they are alive.’

  34. Steve Sibson 2016-05-17 13:00

    Jenny, the Bible says the unbelievers have ears, but they cannot hear. Thanks for helping me understand that truth.

  35. Jenny 2016-05-17 13:34

    I’m still waiting for an answer, Sibs. By the way, I’m glad therapy is helping you.

  36. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-05-17 13:52

    “Not really Lanny, the Bible says we are not supposed to discriminate by letting the poor off the hook.” I have been looking for that allegory in my Bible, Mr Sibson and have not been able to find it. But no matter, I am pretty sure that it does not say anywhere that it is okay to take from the poor to pay the less poor or particularly to give to the rich.

  37. Steve Sibson 2016-05-17 15:39

    Exodus 30:15

    The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

  38. Lanny V Stricherz 2016-05-17 15:47

    Are you saying that Caesar is the Lord? That is blasphemy.

  39. Steve Sibson 2016-05-17 16:41

    I never said that. The Lord does not require more from the rich than he does from the poor. If Caesar or Obama want to do something else, then the Bible says we need to pay the tax. Liberals should not become self-righteous about promoting coveting by using the poor as political pawns by glorifying that with words like “progressive”.

  40. O 2016-05-17 21:18

    That’s right Steve, keep saving your money until you can afford that golden idol.

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