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Small District Administrators Hopeful For Funding Increase

December 5, 2013, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Small District Administrators Hopeful For Funding Increase

A small school district administrator is optimistic about a three percent funding increase proposed by Governor Dennis Daugaard.

Hitchcock-Tulare Superintendent Jeff Clark expected to hear a proposed 1.6 percent funding increase for schools. Clark was pleased to hear this proposal instead: a three percent increase in ongoing funding.

"As a school district, we want to see as much ongoing funding as we can instead of the one-time money. It's hard for us to plan ahead, knowing that we're going to lose some of that funding down the road," Clark said.

Clark would like to use the money to combat what he says is a teacher shortage issue facing schools, small ones in particular.

"There are jobs that we only get one or two applicants for; sometimes we don't get any. And I know there are a number of small schools that didn't fill positions that they had open this year," Clark said.

Clark says his district has been trying to make salaries more competitive and that would continue to be a priority for him should the proposed increase pass. Hitchcock-Tulare’s increase under the proposal would amount to about $30,000 a year.

Clark says that amount could make a big difference in a small district. While schools across the state compete for workers, he says being rural can present an additional barrier to teacher recruitment.

"We want to be as competitive as we can and try to entice people to come to our district," Clark said.

Clark is still waiting to see what future district expenses will be; he's concerned about health insurance costs in particular.

As a result, he can't say for sure where funding increases would go. Still, he's happy to see the idea being proposed.

Clark knows the amount is a proposal at this time but is optimistic it will pass. He and other administrators will meet with area legislators next week asking them to support the increase.

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