While schools are complaining, they're also increasing reserves.
Read it all here.
South Dakota schools are not underfunded now and they won't be in 2008 either, South Dakota Gov. Michael Rounds said on Thursday.
Rounds said he has taken exception with lobbyists and some school officials who say next year's education funding increase awarded by the state Legislature is inadequate. To date, 69 school districts have joined a lawsuit charging the state of South Dakota with failing to adequately fund K-12 public education. The Aberdeen School District will decide whether or not to join the effort at a meeting on Monday.and...
"This whole mess is strictly about money," Rounds said. "How can you come back next year and ask for more when you got a bunch this year? The lobbyists having a problem with this are all about telling the Legislature and public that they were treated poorly."
That's just not true, he said. According to the South Dakota Department of Education, $4,364.85 was allocated per student in the 2007 education funding package. Under the 2008 package, $4,528.80 would be allocated, Rounds said.
"That's a 3.75 percent increase per pupil allocation," Melmer said.
Rounds also pointed to the $154 million in schools' reserve funds as proof that the funding formulas are adequate - a $31 million increase.
"Some schools are going up, some are going down and some have about the same," Melmer said. "Not all districts have leftover balances, but generally most districts do."
So, schools are saying they didn't get enough, but their reserves are increasing? That's a tough one for many in the public to reconcile.
In fact, I'm told at a Rapid City Crackerbarrel that when one Democratic School board member started to complain about the amount schools were getting, he was reminded of that very fact - that his own school's reserves went up significantly.
No one wants to short change education. But when school boards are demanding funding based on a study they authorized and funded themselves, they're going to have to expect some healthy skepticism from legislators and the public alike.
Especially when they're putting money away for a rainy day at the same time.