SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — What’s included in the fiscal year 2024 budget tentatively approved Monday night by the Sioux Falls School Board?

Teacher salaries and money for other expenses. Money that is generated from state aid and local property taxes in large part.

The formal approval of the FY2024 budget will happen in July.

The district will have a budget of roughly $326 million with a large part of the $221 million general fund budget that pays for items like instruction costs and athletics.

But school officials have said at meetings in April and in school board material that while the district wants to maintain the current level of programming for students, there are monetary challenges.

“In the coming years, schools – and ultimately, students – will have to figure out how
to again do without,” the FY2024 budget material from April 24 said.

First, the district will be losing $8.3 million in federal COVID-19 relief money. Specifically, $8.3 million Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Act (ESSER)

“We’ll feel the impact of that 8.3 million dollars…,” school district business manager Todd Vik said at an April 5 school board budget workshop meeting.

At the same time, status quo is the foundation of the FY2024 budget, Vik said. That means the school district wants to provide the same level of programming to students as it did in FY2023, Vik said.

If the elementary system grows by 100, it would likely need four additional classroom teachers and assistant staff, he said. That will cost more but it maintains the status quo, Vik said on April 5.

“We do not consider that a budget increase,” Vik said of the above scenario. “That is maintaining our class size ratio.”

Overall costs have not decreased.

The district will need to pay for about a 4.39% increase in teacher salaries, according to the Sioux Falls Education Association.

While state aid was at 6% in FY2023 and 7% for FY2024, Vik said on April 5 the district does not plan for percentages of that size.

“We’re just projecting the top of what’s law, 3% or inflation, whichever is less,” Vik said on April 5.

General state aid to the school district was $71 million in 2018 and is projected at about $100 million in FY2024.

School officials around the state have said for several years that state aid has not kept up with increasing costs.

Various reports on school funding by state consistently rank South Dakota as one of the lowest. So, while the state aid increased at 6% in FY2023, it appears other states were also increasing their state education aid.

The district has 3,600 staff members and 1,900 of them are teachers. The fiscal year 2024 budget report included in the April 24 school board meeting information said that 85% of the district’s $224 million general fund budget goes toward staff salaries and benefits.

The general fund is the largest portion of any fiscal year budget. The school board approved a tentative FY2024 budget on Monday night that includes increasing the starting wage for teachers to $50,111.

Instruction costs in the elementary school will be about $44.5 million. There will be 573.40 FTEs in the elementary schools.

The middle school system will have 302.31 FTEs with about $25 million in instruction costs. The high school system will have 362 FTEs with about $33.5 million in instruction costs.

Still, property taxes are increasing and property values are rising for homes and other property in the Sioux Falls School District.

“We watch that levy of ours and we watch what houses are being taxed and valuations exploded in the state, especially in this area of the state last year, ” Vik said on April 5.

The school’s tax levy is projected to decrease by 28 cents in 2024. The average school property tax increase over the last 24 years for a typical house in the Sioux Falls School District is about 2.3% per year, according to FY2024 budget material presented by Vik.