Senator Jim Bolin (R-16/Canton) is still fretting about inflation, but from Bob Mercer’s account of last week’s Teacher Compensation Review Board meeting, it doesn’t sound like he’s urging his fellow lawmakers to help schools and teachers deal with rising prices:
Senator Jim Bolin warned “the big I word” — inflation — will reduce purchasing power of school employees, especially teachers, if it takes off. The Legislature since 1995 has limited increases in state aid to schools to the rate of inflation but no more than 3%.
Bolin, a retired educator, said that only twice in the past 25 years has inflation been higher. But the post-COVID economy in the United States is showing signs that inflation could exceed 3%. Pogany talked about inflation reaching the mid-4% range. Bolin said he expected many legislators would still oppose loosening the inflation limit [Bob Mercer, “S.D. Teacher-Compensation Review Board Meets, as a Surge of Covid-Related Vacancies Rolls On,” KELO-TV, 2021.07.16].
Forget keeping up with the actual cost of living; even with an extra half-penny sales tax, we can’t get our teacher pay to keep up with the going market rates for instructional labor in other states. The Department of Education showed Bolin and his fellow do-nothing legislators that, even when we factor in regional price parities, South Dakota teacher pay just barely beats Montana’s and lags behind every other neighboring state’s:
The state’s plan to raise teacher pay to at least the regional median was perhaps doomed from the start because it was based on Governor Dennis Daugaard’s flawed assumption that schools should and would cut 400 teaching positions. That assumption did not pan out. The 2016 enactment of Daugaard’s sales-tax/teacher-pay plan made no dent in the upward curve of the statewide K-12 teacher workforce, and the Department of Education projects our schools will continue to hire more teachers for the next five years to serve the increasing number of students:
The DOE notes that the ratio of projected new students to projected new teachers is 20 to 1, while the desired ratio of students to teachers is 14 to 1. Maybe Senator Bolin needs to worry about that inflation rate.