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K-12 Education Cuts FY 2012

Below is a running list of budget cuts, staff and program reductions, property tax increases, and other measures proposed or enacted by South Dakota public school districts in response to the 6.6% reduction in state aid to education imposed by Governor Dennis Daugaard and the South Dakota Legislature for Fiscal year 2012. You are welcome to update this list by submitting information about your school district via the comment section below or my contact page.

Update 2011.10.20: See the results of Senator Corey Brown’s online survey in which 106 of 152 school districts report their responses to the state budget cuts. Summary:

  • 80% of districts will likely draw on reserves.
  • 73% are using capital outlay to prop up general fund.
  • 87% gave teachers no raises.
District Dollars Budget Actions
Alcester-Hudson $316,000 cut 3 FTE through attrition (math, science, PE); cut K-12 art; use full $400K opt-out;
Avon $90,000 apply capital outlay to general fund; cut one teacher by attrition
Belle Fourche cut $275,000 in teaching and support costs; board passed three-year opt out for $550,000
Beresford $316,514 cut five staff (elem. teacher, administrator, two aides, school nurse); cut activities and programs
Bon Homme $185,000 already opted-out last year for $400,000 per year for five years
Brandon Valley $1.6 million
  • cut one elementrary teacher
  • cut five MS coaches
  • cut administrative pay
  • cut work hours (e.g.: fewer summer hours for secretarial staff)
  • absorb enrollment increase of 70 with no new hires
  • eliminate dues to nat’l school board assoc.
  • reduce school board member pay to $45.meeting
  • use $3.9M to $4.5M in reserves
  • require students within five miles of school to pay for bus service; increase fees and limit pick-up points for open-enrolled student. Superintendent Pappone projects changes to bus fees will return $55,000.
  • teachers volunteer to teach summer school without pay (actually not a cut, but first summer program offered in years)
  • cut gifted instructor
Bridgewater $95,000 cut supplies, cut staff through attrition
  • Close East Central Multi-District (six full-time jobs, three part-time jobs); cut three custodians, technology coordinator, and high school teacher
  • $360,000 anonymous donation saves gifted program, school orchestra, elementary librarian, middle school teacher, high school guidance counselor
  • Eliminate middle school; move students to elementary and high schools (savings: $400,000 in heating, maintenance, and maintenance staff layoffs)
  • increase elementary class size
  • reduce some programs
Elk Point-Jefferson $260,000 apply capital outlay to general fund
Estelline $182,621 Voters pass $350,000 opt-out June 14 by 219–203vote.Estelline School District reports the following cuts:

  • two part-time custodians
  • combined study hall aide, elementary secretary, HS secretary, and librarian to two positions (two positions cut)
  • reduced salaries for board and coaches
  • cut cheer advisor, “C” team coach, assistant track coach, three-act play director
  • restructured employee insurance benefits
Faith $85,000
Flandreau $200,000
  • cut eight assistant coaches: HS football, volleyball, boys basketball, girls basketball, track, golf; MS track; one general coaches’ asst. ($18K)
  • cut through attrition: curriculum director, K-5 PE teacher, HS math teacher, fourth grade teacher ($144,583)
  • “reducing school counselor Amy Firman’s extended contract by 10 days (she will work five days before school starts and five days after it ends instead of 10 and 10, respectively); eliminating the school newsletter; reducing legal fees at an August in-service and reducing adult continuing education and travel” ($38K)
Florence voters approved $90,000 opt-out
Freeman $165,000 cut family and consumer science
Gayville-Volin cut English teacher and half-time elem. teacher; reduce elem. principal to half-time; refinance bonds (saved $110K)
Groton 39 budget cutting proposals, including elimination of debate, cheerleading, golf, and Destination Imagination
Harding County >$100,000 (more than one tenth of budget
  • lay off one teacher (family now moving away)
  • reduce one full-time instructor to part-time
  • leave some vacancies unfilled
  • combine second and third grades in one classroom
Huron $1.3 million Alternatives/perspective presented at March 28 meeting:

  • cut 32.3 FTE (1 in 5 teachers): $1.3M
  • cut all extracurriculars: $812K
  • cut all utilities:$650K
  • cut all bus service: $458K
Irene-Wakonda $150,000 adopt 4-day school week; cut “the equivalent of a full-time teaching position, limited hours for hourly paid positions, school-sponsored fifth- and sixth-grade basketball programs, a full-time general fund teacher’s aide, some part-time custodial help, the dance team position, an assistant track coach which was made into a junior high track position, and supply budgets”; already opting out for $150K
Iroquios Iroquois voters approved $750,000 opt-out (69%–31% vote)
Kadoka $204,000
Madison $360,000 shortfall$137,950 in staff and program cuts proposed May 9
  • cut staff through attrition (six retirements)
  • eliminate HS auto mechanics program
  • eliminate six middle school sports coaches
  • eliminate one ninth-grade volleyball coach
  • eliminate HS oral interp assistant coach
  • eliminate HS debate assistant coach
  • eliminate spring play musical director
  • eliminate summer HS band camp
  • combine HS coronation and talent show advisors
Meade $430,000 close one of six rural schools, reduce staff through attrition, cut programs, freeze salaries.
Menno already in ongoing opt-out of $180K/yr
Milbank Staff reductions (proposed):

  • MS/HS custodian
  • 1/2 elem. guidance
  • elem 2nd grade teacher
  • 4/5 paraprofessional
  • 2/5 elem school nurse (currently full time)
  • MS/HS librarian
  • eight athletic coaching positions
  • one junior high interp coach
  • junior class prom advisor
  • one kitchen staff member
  • 2.5 FTE in special ed
  • 1/6 FTE in Title I/Reading Recovery

Program reductions and other cuts:

  • cut One-Act Play, Student Congress, DECA
  • cut all cheerleader travel except post-season
  • cut travel for national Ag and Debate contests
  • transfer professional development cost to capital outlay
  • reduce utility costs (new lighting)
Mitchell $792,000 Proposed April 12 (details online in PDF from Supt. Graves)

  • Use $400K of $700K opt-out
  • cut $31,498 from extracurricular budget (including $7K from show choir out-of-state travel, $5K from band out-of-state travel)
  • reduce board meetings from 22 to 16 per year
  • reduce board member pay from $60 to $50 per meeting (saving $6K in pay, $4K in publication costs)
  • cut library budget $8K
  • use $55,886 in reserves
  • cut employee compensation $217,614
  • cut 1.5 counseling FTEs ($105,730)
  • cut $70K through staff attrition
  • cut three classified positions ($51K)
Newell cut two elementary teachers, vocal music teacher, Spanish teacher, HS science teacher, school counselor (Newell board agenda, 2011.04.11)An e-mail correspondent reports the approved cuts as follows:

  • 1 retire HS Math-attrition
  • 4 support staff-3 bussing & 1 paraprofessional
  • 2 support staff-library & janitor
  • 1 dept head reduced to 1/2 time
  • 2 dept heads combined to 1 position
  • 6 certified-2 second grade, Vocal Music, Spanish, HS Science, Schoolwide counselor
Parker voters approved $150,000 opt-out
Parkston $285,000 cut two positions by attrition; reduce teacher training budget; more under consideration
Philip $130,000 Shift capital outlay; third year of no raises for teachers
Pierre $1 million: $850K in state budget cuts, $150K loss from bank franchise tax cut nearly 20 staffReported April 27:

  • No new textbook purchases ($300K)
  • Eliminate sixth-grade basketball
  • Total athletic cuts: $43K
  • cut 18 FTEs
  • Total cuts: $662K; rest from reserves; no opt-out planned


Plankinton $25,000
Platte-Geddes cut one position by attrition; more under consideration
Presho $400,000
  • Surplus on hand will alleviate budget cuts
  • Eliminate Christmas bonuses ($20K)
Rapid City $7.27 million
spreading budget cuts over three years; anticipating $3 million to $4 million in cuts in each of next two budget years; attrition through resignations and 32 retirements this yearfreeze expenditures at 2008 levels; reduce staff through attrition; increase class size (elem 25; HS 30); spend reserves, transfer capital outlay funds, backfill with federal stimulus; freeze pay (but district absorbs $17M increase in health insurance premiums)Preliminary budget $189M, cuts $10M, uses reserves to avoid program cuts
Rutland Pay freeze for teachers
Sanborn Central $58,512
  • Eliminate art from distance learning program
  • Share vo-ag teacher with Woonsocket
  • Replace a few instructional days with “professional development” days to save on busing
  • already using opt-out
Sioux Falls ~$6,570,000$9 million total shortfall
Vermillion ~$462,000
Wagner $250,800 cut two teachers, one aide through attrition; freeze salaries; share librarian with neighboring school district
Watertown $1.2 million to $1.4 million
Woonsocket $58,512
Yankton $4.175 million

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader surveyed South Dakota K-12 schools on their FY2011-2012 budget plans. The paper received responses from 74 of our 154 school districts, represetning 75% of our student population. You can download this Excel spreadsheet to view all results from the Argus survey.

Attrition: When staff resign or retire, the school does not hire new personnel to fill those positions. Responsibilities/programs are either assigned to remaining staff or eliminated.

Opt-out: Property tax levies are capped by state law. Local school districts may vote to opt out of that limit and impose a larger levy. School boards and citizens may refer an opt-out to a public vote.

Learn more about school budgets (general fund, capital outlay, all that jazz) from this slideshow primer from Yankton School District.


  1. Moses6 2020-01-21

    The Gov is not doing a very good job for education,That is what the people want no education, cut teachers pay and they go away never to come back in some cases.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-01-22

    Starving teachers of competitive pay is a good tactic for building Trumpistan. Suppress teacher pay, attentuate the talent pool, end up over time with poorer schools that turn out less intellegent and critical voters… the kinds of folks on whom Noem nepotism and Trumpism depend.

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