As soon as Governor Dennis Daugaard signed House Bill 1234 into law, the South Dakota Education Association started taking measures to put it on the November ballot.
On Monday, the group turned in petitions to put the law to a public vote. Nearly 16,000 signatures are needed and SDEA says volunteers collected around 30,000.
House Bill 1234 has four major provisions.
One deals with tenure, or continuing contract as it's known in South Dakota. Any teacher who does not have it by 2016 would not be eligible. Those who are already tenured would keep the status. However, each district would have the option to keep the program active.
The bill also includes a $5,000 bonus for the top 20 percent of teachers. If a district opts-out, the money would be re-allocated to another district. Or administrators can create their own plan to improve student achievement and distribute the money. They would have to present their plan to the state for approval.
The bill also includes $2,500 bonuses for math and science teachers beginning in the fall of 2014. Middle school and high school math and science teachers, or any math and science teachers with special endorsements, are eligible to apply for the bonus. This too would not be mandatory.
Finally, the state would give out 100 teaching scholarships beginning in 2013. Once they graduate, recipients would have to teach a critical subject in the state for at least five years. The critical teaching areas would be determined by a survey of a number of district's statewide.
If state election officials determine there are enough valid petition signatures, the law will be suspended until after the November election.
The Secretary of State estimates it will take a couple of weeks to go through all of the petitions.