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February 14, 2012 05:59 PM

Superintendent: Local Education Control Needed

Timber Lake, SD


South Dakota's tenure bill made it through the House and is now headed to the Senate.

While many educators are pleased with the changes that came out of committee, some would like other things added to the bill before it makes it to the Governor's desk.

Timber Lake is small and in a remote part of the state. So its school has some unique needs. That's why superintendent Jarod Larson wants more local control added to the bill before it becomes law.

Larson is thankful the governor is pushing for another $15 million toward education. But he argues that he, other administrators and the school board know how to best spend it in Timber Lake.

"Some of it is geographic; some of it is culture.  The local control piece is key to schools being able to operate effectively," Larson said.

And that's why he's happy to see the local control portion added to the merit-based bonuses. He's confident the district will come up with an incentive-based plan based on student growth that works for Timber Lake.

Larson does not support the bonus plan for new math and science teachers. He's afraid it could create a negative environment. And his district has staffing needs that don’t include math and science at this time.

"I would like to see a teacher shortage scholarship started instead of an $8,000 bonus program where we could encompass all teacher shortage areas," Larson said.

Larson acknowledges it would probably be difficult to find a replacement for his math or science teachers if one of them left. But at this time, the Northwest Area School Co-op needs help bringing in a speech language pathologist.

Students are receiving that service by sitting in front of a computer because the school can't attract a specialist while the math and science programs are going strong.

"That's not a need at this point. That's why the local control is essential," Larson said.

Larson says a six-year math or science teacher at Timber Lake would make about $35,000. If the current plan goes through, a first-year teacher could come in making about $41,000 when you include the bonus.
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