More on the Education Lawsuit

While on some websites they're celebrating the judge's motion on the educational lawsuits, it's leaving others scratching their heads. Here's what was said about the motion at
Tuesday, the judge ruled the courts cannot determine the amount of money lawmakers can allocate toward education.

"She essentially said I'm not going to order the legislature to pay any money, so I'm going to grant that part of your motion so what I will retain the power to do so is interpret what the constitution means as it related to education," South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long said.

Long says they'd hoped the judge would dismiss the case all together. He says you can't fix what isn't broken.

"In 1994, this same lawsuit essentially was brought and judge Zinter decided that South Dakota students were receiving an adequate education and a constitutional education in South Dakota. I don't think that has changed," Long said.
So, a decision on constitutionality is going to be made with no power of enforcement? Well, then does that make it just an advisory opinion?

Why does this matter, you might ask? One observant reader noted to me this morning that we might consider the fact that "advisory opinions are a no-no because the courts don’t offer policy positions – they resolve real controversies."

And that leaves us where we're going to be. In a controversy which will always be unresolved.

In fact, I'd say that the court taking this position is bad. Because all it does is leave us arguing after it's all said and done. Either the court has authority to resolve a legal dispute, or they don't have the authority to resolve a political question.


Anonymous said…
Wow! You must be a democrat.
Anonymous said…
1:22, I assume you mean 12:57 is a Democrat the way he picks at nits and misses the big picture? I agree.
Anonymous said…
In the end, this will amount to little more than an opportunity for a few administrators to get quoted by the newspapers....all the while neglecting to do the jobs they were hired to do....EDUCATE OUR KIDS! To quote the legislator whose law firm is handling this case, it's time for the schools--and especially those underworked, overpaid administrators--to "get back to work."
Anonymous said…
1:24, of all four of your comments, that's the first worthwhile thing you've said.
Anonymous said…
1:28 -

I made the 1:24 comment. It was my first and only comment here.
Anonymous said…
Well, it's an opinion of whether the state is meeting the constitution.

Is that what courts do? Especially the Supreme Court?

Seems to me that this is the happy medium line that the courts should take. Not "legislating from the bench" while still making a determination of whether the constitution is being upheld.

And, if the courts determine that the legislature is acting outside of the constitution - well, then, wouldn't that be statement of what they should be doing?
Anonymous said…
Exactly, 2:41. "it's an opinion of whether the state is meeting the constitution."

It's one judge's opinion, which she has ruled she can do nothing about. What's the purpose of continuing on? Do we need to spend more taxpayer money on this? School districts are shelling out money while at the same time complaining they don't have enough, the Attorney General is diverting resources to defend, and the state is paying for a judge, court reporter, clerk, and jurors that could be better utilized in cases where the court can actually take some action.
Anonymous said…
People get a life, instead of complaining about grammar and punctuation! This is a blog from conversations with other people we see them just about the same as a IM.
Who cares other than those who want to complain about something other than what the topic is about!
The issue or topic is more important than what most have posted. So I would say even this post if off topic.
Anonymous said…
As for the topic at hand. I would throw it out.
People need to look at the broader picture of funding education.
Can the State South Dakota and the local tax payers afford to fund all the schools we have with declining enrollment.
Someone somewhere has to understand this and has to come into reality and soon.
Anonymous said…
State doesn't save money on consolidation.
PP said…
Guys, discussions on grammar and punctuation are off topic, and hence deleted.

Besides, I'm trying to hammer out posts, do research, eat a meal and get back to work on time in my hour alloted. You try to do it without proofing.

Don't like the way I write? It is a free country.
Anonymous said…
pp invokes his own nannystate yet again. What a hypocrite!
Anonymous said…
PP can you get us a copy of the opinion?
Anonymous said…
Okay, I may have posted the question in the wrong form. When I get time I will re-post on school funding. I wanted people to think in the per student allocation, small school factor, and local effort,thought process.
I do feel in the end the state, tax payers and all would save with consolidation considering the declining enrollment. I guess I will have to find time to put the thoughts together better.
Anonymous said…
First, you have to assume that declining enrollment will continue. Trends say it won't. We're coming out of that rut in 2010 or so.

No matter where the kids are, they are worth roughly the same. The amount the comes in through the small school factor is about 3% of the total state aid. That will not continue to grow, and will become a smaller and smaller portion of the ed budget in the coming years when the legislature gives inflationary increases.

In just a couple years, it will become such a small part of the budget, that it's impact will be negiligible.

Especially when declining enrollment reverses. And, that's coming.
Anonymous said…
Trends show declining enrollment will start to get worse. It's going to nose dive. There are all sorts of indicators. That part of the budget is going to skyrocket.

When 9:07 shows you her statistics and sources, I'll show you mine.
lexrex said…
"State doesn't save money on consolidation."

what? how not?

when 2 schools consolidate: one superintendent instead of two; one principal intead of two; one teacher teaching 20 students instead of two teachers teaching 10 students each; one building to maintain instead of two.
Anonymous said…
10:57 -

So, you say you have data that suggests more people are moving INTO communities that currently benefit from the small school factor?

What kind of vodoo do you do?

Growth in the I-29 Corridor and in the Hills will outpace and offset declining enrollment.

There's probably different projections available for that, I'm not sure. The one's I've seen say it's going to happen.

But, I don't care who you are, who your boss is, or where you come from - there will not be more students in small schools in five years than there is today. The amount delivered through the small school factor will go down.
Anonymous said…
lerex -

oh what a joy it must be to live a simple, misinformed life.

the consolidation of administration doesn't change the per-student allocation - the amount per kid remains the same, so the amount of taxdollars going to education stays the same.

as far as - "one building to maintain instead of two" - you're going to have a hard time getting two communities 15 miles apart to agree to close elementary schools. No one wants to send 5-year olds on a bus for 30-45 minutes a day. Especially when the whether's bad. alot of consolidation situations, new buildings had to be built to accomodate the new kids. better check your information.

Also... with administration. Well, in small districts, superintendents wear several hats - most of the time they are a superintendent and the principal. If two districts combine, there would likely have to be a superintdentdent AND a principle.

As far as 1 teacher teaching 20 kids - find me a school district in South Dakota where the student/teacher ratio is 20. Go ahead. I will give you a billion dollars if you can.

Unrealistic. Uninformed. Lerex.
Anonymous said…
Unrealistic = 9:48

Sure the per student state spending will be the same, but with far fewer expenses, due to consolidation there will be much more of that money to spend on kids and teachers, not duplication of services and buildings.

Only two ways to get more money to schools - big-time consolidation or more taxes.
Anonymous said…
Far fewer expenses? For CRYING out loud I wish SOMEONE out there calling for consolidation KNEW what they were talking about.

If you ASSUME the best case scenario, a district will save MAYBE 15% on salaries and benefits. MAYBE. If student to teacher ratios climb, and the DISTRICT ONLY USES ONE BUILDING.

But, what you don't understand is that consolidation will never happen if everyone insists on closing all buildings - people flat out don't want to send really young kids on buses for hours a day.

Another thing that people don't consider - costs of transportation. There won't be savings in that area, for sure... costs will increase.

Another thing people don't consider - if you move to a larger district, there may be a need for MORE ADMINISTATORS. When you get 600 kids in a school, you might need someone else to be the Athletic Director. You might need A superintendent, K-8 principle, and High School Principle.

Your math is tooooo simple. Because you don't understand.

Oh, and there's another way to increase education funding. How about limiting state government to 3% or less, and diverting the money to education.

Live on what you make schools live with for a while.

I don't want my tax dollars funding your inefficent prison system. You keep arresting the same drug offenders over and over, giving them free room and board.

I don't want my tax dollars funding our SIX state universities. Do we need SIX universities. Six university presidents? Do we need to duplicate programs? When kids go to college, they don't need to be close to home. They don't have to be bused. I believe in higher education, but... WYOMONING only has one University. We only need TWO. Let SDSU run USD, DSU and Northern, consolidate and specialize. Let SDSMT run Black Hills, consolidate and specialize.

No one talks about consolidating the Regental programs? Why not? They're the one taking all the state's money. They lean on the Gov. and promise scholarships and big campaign donations, and they get their way.

Rid the state of the Board of Regents Bureaucracy! Consolidate management. Consolidate programs. Save the salaries of those presidents that make a half million dollars!
Anonymous said…
There, YOU said it, "maybe 15%" !!

$1.5 billion a year x 15%= $225 million dollars a year!!!

More than even the goofballs suing the state are asking for.

Maybe my math is tooo easy, but that's pretty simple to understand.

Plus, I don't believe your 15% number, I think 25% is closer. It's not hard to figure out what our problem with education is in SD. We've got 66 counties, and 167 school districts.... Duh!

P.S.- Next we try to get that number of counties down to 15, or so. Sixty-six makes about as much sense as 167 school districts.
Anonymous said…
Hahaha! Way to multiply the 15% by the entire amount spent on education, including federal dollars.

What a misleading crock. You MUST be a legislator. First, its not $1.5 billion. That's an overstatement... by about 500 million.

AND, that 15% is just on SALARIES, and the example is taken from the Department of Education, so go talk to them about their example. The cost of operating facilities and transportation could vary greatly, depending on the consolidation. Plus, let's not forget having to build a new building to accomodate double the students.

Second - even if all the districts that are "small by choice" consolidated, that would only reduce the number of districts we have by about 25.

Unless, of course, you're suggesting that Harrisburg, Tea, West Central and Brandon Valley all consolidate with Sioux Falls. And Meade, Douglas, and New Underwood Consolidate with Rapid City. And Meade, Belle Fourche and Lead consolidate.

Maybe that's what you're suggesting, I don't know.

You know, while you're consolidating governments, why don't we just team up with North Dakota? Think of all the cost savings if we could just have one set of overpaid bureaucrats.
Anonymous said…
anon 9:15 pm

where did 1.5 billion come from ?
Anonymous said…
K-12 spending from State aid and property taxes is a little over 500 million, the 1.5 billion is a BILLION off, haha
Anonymous said…
The total dollars that funnel through the state budget for education is about $1.5 billion.

Why does anon 10:05 keep going ha ha? I don't see anything funny about it. That's a huge amount of money coming out of our pockets.

I tend to agree with 9:15. Over a billion dollars a year, and the schools scream louder than ever. Will there ever be a time when they say "that's good enough". Now there's something to say Ha Ha about !
Anonymous said…
Hahaha. Wow. Liars and their lying lies. $1.5 billion...are you KIDDING?

Go look at the general appropriations bill from 2007 - HB 1281.

State aid to education (K-12) is $308 million - ONE FIFTH the amount you pokes are quoting.

I don't know where you pull the $1.5 billion figure, but that might include 1) all federal money 2)all state money to the board of regents 3) all federal money to the board of regents 4) all other funds spent by the board of regents.

It's disgusting that you actually use a number that large to stagger people with.
Anonymous said…
Oh... and one least follow up.

If it's federal moeny, it's not coming out of your pocket. I don't know how you can claim $1.5 billion, when the state budget is just over $1 billion. It's crazy.

Anything over the state budget is the welfare our state gets because some people think its a real good policy to take handouts.

Some people think its real good policy to steal taxpayer dollars from other states because we can support our own programs sufficiently.

You know, I wonder if the federal government is ever going to look at South Dakota and say, "You know, 2/3 of your budget is OUR MONEY. For every dollar you send us, we send you back 2! You are terribly inefficient. Time to partner up with North Dakota."
Anonymous said…
anon 8:22 am

this is haha,, I did say K-12,,,the regents budget is included in "education" dollars comments from misinformed expert-wannabee's

In fact property taxes for k-12, dropped almost 6 million dollars between 99 and 04

State aid in 04 was 266 million, local effort was 243 million, thats 509 million total. FOR K-12, about the same as it was in 1996, 11 years ago.

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