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June 18, 2012 12:04 PM

SDEA Turns In 30,000 Signatures

Pierre, sd

South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant says the South Dakota Education Association has turned in around 30,000 signatures to refer House Bill 1234 to a public vote.

The SDEA and its volunteers have been collecting signatures to place the bill on the November ballot and needed 16,000 to get it on the ballot.  Monday morning they boarded a bus out of Sioux Falls and Mitchell and headed to Pierre to hand them in.

The South Dakota Legislature passed the bill this past session, which gives top teachers bonuses, provides scholarships for new teachers in certain areas and gets rid of tenure.

Teachers who made the trip Monday morning were looking forward to marching up the steps of the South Dakota capitol and make their voices be heard.

"We have never thought students should be totally measured on that one day and we don't think teachers should be also," Roosevelt High School Teacher Bonnie Mehlbrech said.

The secretary of state's office will now begin looking at a five percent, random sampling to verify that there are enough signatures to bring the issue to a vote. That's expected to take a couple weeks.

Governor Dennis Daugaard, who signed the bill, released a statement following the SDEA's visit to the capitol.

"I'm not surprised that the Teacher Bonus Bill was referred because the teachers' union put a lot of work into collecting signatures," Daugaard said.  "I look forward to furthering the discussion with the people of South Dakota on this very important topic. The bill is aimed at improving student achievement by channeling extra money directly to our best teachers and phasing out teacher tenure."

We'll have a news crew in Pierre and bring you more details of the trip tonight on KELOLAND News.

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