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Funding A Priority For SF Schools

January 4, 2012, 6:09 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Funding A Priority For SF Schools
SIOUX FALLS, SD - South Dakota's largest school district has officially put education funding on the docket as one of its 2012 legislative issues. 

When Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed his new budget in December, he announced education funding would be increased by 2.3 percent and would receive a one-time boost of $12 million. But the Sioux Falls School District says those numbers are misleading, and plans to push for a change in the funding formula. 

"Decisions have to be made. Tough decisions have to be made," Superintendent Pam Homan said. "But the ultimate is that everyone's making them on accurate, factual calculations."

The school district doesn't believe everyone has all the facts in the governor's proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

"People say, 'Well look, the formulas are going up 2.3 percent. You should be happy, right?' Everyone gets lost in the one-time money shuffle, and what it really means to us unfortunately," School Board Vice-President Doug Morrison said. 

Business Manager Todd Vik said taking away the one-time money proposed by the governor's previous budgets makes the increase much less than the proposed increase.

"The governor's proposal for schools is a .8 percent increase over what we can recover on a per pupil basis this year," Vik said.

The district has come up with a funding formula it would like to see based on a bill proposed last year by Pierre lawmakers. That would use money from the ten percent state aid cut proposed during last year's legislative session. Vik says residents haven't seen a decrease in property taxes, and the state has moved that money elsewhere.

"Instead of letting the state take that windfall and keep it, put it back into the formula on an ongoing basis," Vik said. 

But while the Sioux Falls School Board seems to agree on that plan, getting the rest of the state and the legislators on the same page could take work.

Vik said  the next step is to find a legislator to sponsor the bill, and lobby for the support to get that bill traction in the legislature.

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