Dems release Education spending plan. But, where's the money they want to spend going?

South Dakota Senate Democrats release their educational spending plan yesterday, and plan on using the interest from a few trust funds. But the question I have is where is the money they want to spend going now?

According to the Rapid City Journal:
Democratic leaders in the state Legislature on Wednesday announced a plan that would, by the end of five years, increase annual state aid to education by $100 million. And they said they'd do it without increasing taxes and without spending down reserves.

"We truly believe that the resources are present in South Dakota at this moment, as we speak," Senate Democratic Leader Scott Heidepriem said.

The Democrats would pay for the plan with:
  • Interest from the Education Enhancement Trust Fund, which comes from the state's tobacco settlement.
  • Interest from the Dakota Cement Trust Fund, which comes from the sale of the Cement Plant.
  • Money from the Property Tax Relief Fund, which comes mostly from video lottery.
"This can be accomplished without raising taxes or touching our trust account principal," House Democratic Leader Dale Hargens said.


Heidepriem said growth in the two trust funds, growth in state revenues and a tighter rein on spending could pay for the plan.

Rep. Alan Hanks, R-Rapid City, said Democrats were leaving out part of their plan. "They should also identify programs they're going to cut," he said.
Read it all here. Regarding Alan Hanks' comments - that's what I said. Where are they planning on stealing those interest funds from?

According to the Argus, the Associated School Boards of South Dakota are hitching their wagon to the Democrats plan, because it comes closer to what their study says they need (otherwise known as the give-us-everything-we-want-plan):
Wayne Leuders, head of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, said his group supports the Democrats' concept because it comes close to meeting needs of an education funding adequacy study an alliance of education groups commissioned last year.

"We're hoping to support any funding at all that comes close to what the alliance showed is needed," he said.

Senate Republican Leader David Knudson of Sioux Falls said the Democrats might be overreaching.

He said he hasn't seen details of the proposal, but "It sounds to me like it makes a commitment that can't be sustained over time.''

Knudson said the state should be careful about "depleting trust funds so aggressively the principal doesn't keep pace with inflation.''
Read that all here.

Maybe someone can answer this question for me. With South Dakota kids already ranking very highly in academic achievement, what will this money be spent on?

Don't get me wrong - I'm not trying to be a smarty pants. I believe that many of our older schools are dilapidated and falling apart, and there are genuine needs in education. But educating students is priority #1.

If people are talking about spending this type of money on education, as a taxpayer, I'd like to know what it's specifically going for. If we give "X" dollars to a school district what percentage is going to go towards what?

If those in power want taxpayers to sign off on a plan, they'd better start explaining that first and foremost.


VJ said…
pp, I have been wondering about the same thing. Just what would they do with the money? I always hear that they need more money but is it just for salaries or do they have other plans for it? I don't know if I have ever heard a plan except to raise teacher’s salaries.

Talked to a couple of teachers and asked them what would they want done with the money? Both said it would sure be nice to have some extra help in the elementary area. Extra teacher assistants in K-3 would be wonderful. They also said teacher assistants in the math and science area in high school would provide better results in those areas. Teachers want to do more but just don’t have the extra time when you have 30 students in a class and have 5 to 6 sections a day.

I think providing extra educators to help the student is a good idea. The elementary teachers would love it!
Anonymous said…
PP - coming up with a statewide plan isn't only difficult, it's a waste of time.

One district might use it to hire extra teachers, one district might use it to implement all day ever day kingergarten.

Let's not forget, there's 20-some million in opt-outs out there. That's 1/5 of the increase right there.

Trying to pigeon hole ever singe dollar is a stall tactic, and it hurts our kids.
Anonymous said…
If anyone is truly interested in where their local school district would spend extra money, go ask your superintendent for a list of programs that have been cut in the last 5 years. I would guess that is where they would start. This isn’t about expanding programs, it is about keeping what we have now.
Anonymous said…

that's the same old saw we've heard for the last 10 years. I have microfiche of the Argus going back 10 years where the educational establishment has been saying that.

First it is up to local communities to opt out. We don't need bigger buildings and more gyms. We need to focus on education and quality teachers.

Second, we need a compromise on the part of you folks claiming that you are holding on for dear life and those who don't want to spend anymore than is absolutely neccessary.

Third, that compromise has to include opt outs (unlimited amounts) merit pay (4 million), mandating administrative expenses to no more than 35 cents of every dollar spent on education (4 million) and finally, efficiencies in the system, including consolidation and cooperative partnerships for bulk fuel orders (not sure how much here).

As an aside, these coops include bulk fuel purchases for school buses. Fuel consumption for school districts is an incredible expense, yet every school board wants to spend money in town with the local gas man. Wrong answer. We need several districts, within reasonable proximity to form coops and solicit bids for bulk fuel orders instead of each district paying more just so the local gas guy can get his cut. Just as Congressional Democrats want the federal government to negotiate bulk RX sales, so should school districts with fuel oil.

Further, school districts really need to think hard about the balance between extra-cirricular activities and creating scholar leaders. Yes, sport do help with teamwork and all that stuff but when sacrifice is required it means cutting extra coaches and some programs so that we can focus like a laser on classroom activities first then sports.
Anonymous said…
If local communities are not willing to invest in their local schools why should the state step in and invest?

Local communities know best what's up with the hometown school district and if they are unwilling to invest in the local school leadership it sends a powerful message to state legislators in Pierre.

When a city votes not to spend more on their own school that's just like the state votes on tobacco that nobody wants to overturn because you are overturning the will of the people.

School leaders need to reevaluate themselves and their beliefs if the locals lack confidence in them and the the way they are running their programs.
Anonymous said…
I think alot of this is not an unwillingness to support education but some of the people who are running the system.

If the educucrats were more willing to think less about how much money they want and more about what kind of results that parents expect we could bridge the current gap.

In the Argus today the educrats and liberal Scotty H didn't once tell us what they expect from educrats in terms of performance it was all about money.

This state is fiscally conservative but willing to invest if the people running the show are worth it.

We need more emphasis on student performance in order to persuade the locals and the legislators to invest more dollars in education.

Will the liberal NEA types go down that road for our kids. Probably not.
chad said…
I think we need to stop and think about this for a moment.

The state has nearly a billion of our (taxpayers) dollars. But yet local school districts are expected to keep raising taxes in order to keep paying teachers and buying supplies? These opt-outs are not being used to build schools and gyms. They're being used to meet the budget.

The state can afford this -- it spends money earned as interest on the reserve and trust funds which are

As far as those crying for justification ... i.e. "show me you're worth it," ... there isn't any better investment we can make than by investing in the state's children. The least we can do is release some of the money the state is holding hostage and possibly prevent some local property taxes from being raised.
nonnie said…
2:50 said, "If local communities are not willing to invest in their local schools why should the state step in and invest?"

Translate that to read "If local property owners are not willing to pay more in taxes to support their local schools, why should the state step in and invest."

Maybe the answer lies in the words "local property owners." The local property owners pay huge amounts to the school already. How much did you contribute to your school last year, 2:50?

Maybe if the schools focused more on academics and less on building new gyms (and yes, our community has a group formed to see how to go about building a new gym at this precise moment, after a four year opt out, after a new elementary school built this year that already went over budget, with the capital outlay fund now stuck at 3% for the foreseeable future), then maybe we could talk.

When cheer and dance were just added as high school sactioned sports, when buses go every day here and there to ferry kids to sports activities at my expense, when the same few kids benefit from these expensive sports activities, when administrative budgets and personnel are too high, when our local school board is spending money to hire a firm to find a new supt (a job we elected them to do), and now when preschool is desired at taxpayer expense, then we have a problem with the schools wanting more of our local money.

Get back to an academic education. Make the extracurriculars truly extracurricular and funded outside of taxpayer dollars. I think everyone would be surprised at how much savings this would realize. A "free public education" was never meant to include all the frills that it now does.
Anonymous said…
Gov. Rounds calls for an increase in Medicaid spending, but do we ask where that increase goes?

Saying you need to know where the money goes spits in the face of professional educators, who know what it takes to make a difference in the lives of kids.

What it takes is different in Sioux Falls and Rapid, and its sure as hell different in Faith.

It means more after school programs to help struggling students. It means more rigorous opportunities for our state's brightest kids.

It means we won't send 30% of our kids to college needing to waste their time and money taking remediation courses.

It could mean eliminating an opt-out, and returning money into the pockets of the tax payers - compared to slushing it away in a billion-dollar surplus.

It could mean summer teacher acadamies where teachers continue to learn how to teach.

It means raising the bar in South Dakota to say we're going to do our part to help the U.S. catch up with a world that is better educated than us.

It could mean having to do away with a federal tax credit for teachers because they have to buy supplies for their own rooms.

It would mean freeing up administrators from constantly having to look at which area they are going to cut next.

It could mean paying our teachers more, so they don't jump ship to Wyoming, who starts their teachers off at $15K more.

It could mean alot of things, PP.

But one thing's for sure - it would all go to our children's future.
Anonymous said…
PP: Dead on. Typical Liberalism: spend money to educate our children on things they should be learning at home from their parents - while neglecting the senseless killing of thousands of unborn children each year.

When will Dave Knudson and the rest of his Sioux Falls Liberal Republicans stand up and fight for what is right?
VJ said…
10:22 PM

Well said!
Anonymous said…
GOP: let's spend money and time on abortion lawsuits, banning gay marriage and abstinence only sex ed. We have an almost billion reserve. Gosh those T-Bills look cool in our portfolio!!

Dems: Let's make a real effort to put some money into our kids, our teachers and our schools.

Hmm... I wonder why the tide is turning in So Dak?
Anonymous said…
51% 51% 51% of SD budget already goes to educate our kids! 51%


And we get a GREAT product--South Dakota students score VERY WELL on all the national tests.
We need to keep smaller schools--close to home--with parents and community members making the decisions. The larger the school district the poorer the overall performance.

If we move ALL sports OUT OF THE SCHOOLS and make them community supported and not a part of the educational process we would focus more of our time and money on good academics.

Move ONE teacher from district to district not thirty students from one town to another. Use more technology and quit wasting our children lives in hours of travel time--often unsupervised--often very young drivers.

Combine the younger grades in towns where the numbers don't support a teacher for each "grade."

Think outside the box! Stop doing more of the same and expecting different results!
Anonymous said…
There is no clear evidence that increasing funding for education will save children's lives.

However, if we put that same funding into backing a bill to completely overturn Roe V Wade, we definitely would save lives.

When the tide is turning, what leaders have the courage to stand against the tide? Senator Knudson, Governor Rounds?

Will the real Republican party PLEASE stand up?

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