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Educators Wait For Funding Numbers

March 11, 2014, 5:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Educators Wait For Funding Numbers

As South Dakota's legislative session nears an end, educators are waiting to see how much money schools will get.

"I'm anticipating the three-percent increase in school funding based on what the governor's proposal was. I'm also anticipating that we'll probably get some one-time money," Warner superintendent Kirk Easton said.

While thankful for that possible increase, Easton would like to see additional ongoing funds heading to schools.

With health insurance becoming more expensive for district employees, Easton says projected premium increases paid by the school will eat up most of the projected three-percent funding increase from the state. Any additional money, he says, could help pay other bills.

"We could use it for increased teacher salaries, increased costs in energy costs, transportation costs, food service, you name it," Easton said. "We could use it for a lot of things."

Easton recognizes that lawmakers are probably hearing plenty of requests from others who would also like to receive more money from the state. As a result, he's quick to mention he doesn't want educators' hopes for additional funds to come off as criticism of the governor or state lawmakers.

"They've got a tough job; they really do. They only have so much money and they have to prioritize things,” Easton said. “People just need to know that education in South Dakota for right now, funding, we're hurting," Easton said.

Educators have been asking for a 3.8 percent increase in order to return schools to funding levels prior to the budget cuts a few years ago.

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