Legislators want outside look at S.D. Department of Education

Capitol News Bureau
KELO south dakota department of education

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Four state lawmakers want the Legislature’s professional staff to quickly seek proposals so a broad outside review of the South Dakota Department of Education can start as soon as possible.

The Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee set up the panel October 30 and named Representative Sue Peterson chairwoman. The Sioux Falls Republican said Monday the reviewer should have experience in education.

The third-party review would start January 27 and finish in June or July. The 2020 legislative session opens January 14 and concludes March 30. The subcommittee’s timetable means possible changes that need legislative approval could come in the 2021 session.

A cost-benefit analysis of the department’s current and proposed uses of federal grants also will be performed independent of the third-party review.

“It should be a good road map,” Peterson said about the overall plan.

The four lawmakers met Monday by teleconference. Peterson said she’ll seek approval for the scope of work from the Legislature’s Executive Board Tuesday.

The broad review is the first for the department since at least 2010, when the state Board of Education put South Dakota on the Common Core path of K-12 standards.

Peterson planned to work on the final version of the request for proposals with Jason Hancock. He is director for the Legislative Research Council that will oversee administration for the review contract.

She specifically wants the outside review to look at whether the state department is meeting the South Dakota Constitution mandate.

Peterson said the review also would look at private schools and alternative education, such as home schools, allowed under South Dakota law.

She wants the review to cover teacher training, including college preparation and continuing education.

Cost will be one of the criteria, Hancock told the subcommittee Monday.

Other GOAC members on the special panel are Republican Representative Chris Karr of Sioux Falls, Democratic Representative Shawn Bordeaux of Mission and Republican Senator Jack Kolbeck of Sioux Falls.

“I think this looks like a comprehensive scope,” Karr said. He added, “I think this does meet the goals of what was laid out.”

Bordeaux, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, said the reviewer should have experience working with Native American education and should consider successful programs in some South Dakota school districts.

Kolbeck said the Sioux Falls school district has some programs that have shown success. “Maybe there are some things out there that are really working well and we can include those in our research,” Kolbeck said.

The lawmakers agreed they’ll invite participation from the department’s secretary, Ben Jones, and from the chairwoman of the House Education Committee, Representative Lana Greenfield, a Republican from Doland who is a retired teacher.

The four also agreed to invite a member of the Senate Education Committee. The 2019 chairman, now-former Senator Alan Solano, a Rapid City Republican, resigned from the Legislature effective November 30.

Governor Kristi Noem hasn’t named a successor for Solano. The Republican governor also has vacancies to fill from two other Republican senators, Stace Nelson of Fulton and Lyndi DiSanto of Box Elder.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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