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Schools React To Possible 10 Percent Cuts

January 10, 2011, 10:01 PM by Katie Janssen

Schools React To Possible 10 Percent Cuts
SIOUX FALLS, SD - For the first time ever, South Dakota schools are looking at state funding cuts, and they may go deeper than first feared. Governor Rounds proposed five percent cuts, but word is circulating that Governor Daugaard may double that. For the state's largest school district, possible cuts total in the millions.

Sioux Falls has more students than any other South Dakota district, but that also means it stands to lose the most money if cuts are made. Board member Darin Daby says he first heard about a possible 10 percent cut to education last week.

"The rumors have been flying around and there were rumors Governor Daugaard was going to restore education funding, but now we're hearing rumors it's going to go deeper," Daby said.

They may be more than just rumors. The Associated School Boards of South Dakota sent a memo to all its members Friday, preparing them for the 10 percent possibility and asking them to talk to both their lawmakers and their board members. Daby says it's already on the Sioux Falls board's radar.

"Regular discussions about school funding for the last three to six months, we've been talking about what the possibilities are," Daby said.

The Sioux Falls School District built its budget around a zero percent increase, based on actions last year by the legislature. But a 10 percent cut would mean $10 million dollars less for the state's largest district.

Money that's now being used to fund teacher salaries and programs, both of which could be in danger of going away.

"During difficult economic times, it's time to cut expenses,” Daby said. “But education is not an expense; education is an investment in our children and the future of this state."

Associated School Boards of South Dakota says statewide, a 10 percent cut in education would mean $60 million less in state aid to schools, which is enough money to pay for more than 1,500 teacher salaries.

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