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October 10, 2017 06:35 PM

36 Schools Short On Teacher Salaries

Canistota, SD

Teachers in South Dakota are getting paid more because of the half-cent sales tax increase.

The state set up an accountability board to make sure the additional money schools got actually went to pay instructors.

Three dozen schools in South Dakota missed the mark. 

They either didn't raise the total amount of money that goes to pay teachers or the average amount each teacher makes isn't enough. 

36 schools didn't give teachers enough additional money. There are several reasons why, which may help them qualify for a waiver from the board.  You can find the full list of waiver requirements here. 

The two most common reasons for a waiver, according to one superintendent, are teacher retirement or fewer kids in school. 

On paper, it doesn't seem to add up. In practice: it's a lot different. 

"I think they have to know that the whole story isn't exactly told as it develops," Canistota Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nebelsick said. 

Canistota Public Schools is on the list of schools that haven't increased teacher salaries enough, according to the state's new requirement. 

The district's superintendant says there's a good reason why. 

"Some of the stories that come out would indicate that there's an intentional defrauding, and that's not the case at all," Nebelsick said. 

The district is more than $23,000 short of meeting state's requirement. But that isn't the full story. 

Retired teachers were replaced with younger teachers, who start off making less, driving down the average. 

"Which is the same reason why the review process to go before and explain is a good deal," Nebelsick said. 

It starts to add up when you take a look in Canistota Public School's rearview mirror.

The class of 2016 had 22 students. So that means when the kindergarten class coming in after them had 15 students, there were seven less students and less state funding coming in. 

"In a school our size, that's quite a bit," Nebelsick said. 

In total, there are 14 fewer kids enrolled at Canistota this year. 

"The time that they took the numbers at was at one time of the year, and then when they took the numbers at a different time of the year, they didn't match up," Blide said. 

School budgets are based on the current number of students registered. If fewer students are registered the next year, the school loses money for those kids. 

"We actually lost $81,000 from what they were predicted to be in the first place," Nebelsick said.

Most of school's money comes student enrollment. 

"It's hard when it's set on one day, and then the next day that number could be totally different," Math Instructor Canistota Public Schools Brandon Blide said. 

For Blide, it's important to set the record straight. 

"I think it's always a good thing to be talking about," Blide said. 

Canistota Public Schools is starting the process to get a waiver and expects the request will be approved. 

Frequently asked questions about the new process can be found here.

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