The legislation promised to give teachers significant raises and give South Dakota schools the ability to compete. But now that districts are doing the math, the Governor's plan isn't adding up.
Small districts claim because of a last minute change to the legislation, it no longer lives up to its promises.
Bon Homme school officials calculated the numbers. It turns out, because of declining enrollment, they won't be giving their teachers as much money as expected.
Bon Homme Teacher Megan Winckler had high hopes for a pay raise in her future.
"You know of course we were ecstatic when this bill passed because we thought we can finally compete with other states, and we'll be competitive, and we'll be able to get and keep good teachers in our schools," Megan Winckler, teacher, said.
Only now, she's disappointed. State officials just released the numbers on how much extra money could be used for increasing teacher pay in the South Dakota, and unfortunately, she said teachers in her district won't be making much more than they are today.
"You know they said that it was going to be about an average of $8,500, the teachers in our district aren't going to see that," Winckler said.
Teachers in the Bon Homme School District said they will receive a fraction of that because State officials base how much teachers will receive on their school's current enrollment.
Because Bon Homme enrollment is declining, the district will be getting less money than larger schools. The district Superintendent says the money his district will receive is not nearly as much as legislators first proposed.
"Giving 85 percent of 237 to those teachers became giving 85 percent of 77,000 to those teachers, which I know wasn't the intent of the bill," Mike Elsberry, Superintendent, said.
He says the bill's language changed when it made it to the Senate, which ended up hurting Bon Homme and other small districts in the state. Wrinckler says it's unfair for teachers and other taxpayers in the county.
"We are all being excised the same exact tax across South Dakota, but yet when it comes to allocating the money, it's not equal," Winckler said.
While Wrinckler says she will continue to teach in Bon Homme Schools, she says five other teachers are leaving the district to find better paying jobs in other districts. Right now the district is asking the legislature to reconvene.
However, we talked with state officials working at the Governor’s office who have a different opinion about how well the money is being allocated. According to them, smaller districts actually get paid more per student.
State officials claim schools in Bon Homme County will be getting a fair amount of money. They’re just getting paid less than larger schools because they have a smaller number of students.
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