SIOUX FALLS, SD -
If you've ever wanted to learn more about education funding, but don't have the time or resources, a non-profit may be able to help.
Whether you have kids in school or not, education funding impacts just about everyone. That's why the South Dakota Budget and Policy Institute is holding open meetings all over the state this month to share what they've found and create a conversation.
"What are we willing to spend? How much do we value this particular social function of government? Do we value it? How much do we value it? And how much do we think to invest in it in the form of our money," Joy Smolnisky, Executive Director of SD Budget And Policy Institute, said.
The presentations will have facts and figures about everything from comparing state and federal funding in neighboring states to teacher salaries.
"It's across the board; there is significantly more earning potential, buying potential, for teachers if they are drawing a salary in a different state. Even if they're spending at a higher cost of living. It ranges from about 17 percent higher up to in the high 30s," Smolnisky said.
The figures also show federal funding in South Dakota is about the same, if not higher, than surrounding states. However, state funding is significantly less in South Dakota than other states in the Midwest.
Even though the group is non-partisan, they hope these open meetings will enable people to play a more educated, and active, role in the legislative session.
"We have to start a few months early, to begin building that understanding of K-12 education. So when we get to January and February that public is ready to engage and provide feedback to their elected officials," Smolnisky said.
Meetings will be held in Vermillion, Rapid City, Pierre, Aberdeen and Sioux Falls.
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