- Associated Press - Saturday, June 20, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota educators say they’re holding out hope that a legislative committee created by the governor could produce some solutions to what they see as major issues facing the state’s public education system.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students met in Sioux Fall this week, where teachers and officials joined legislators to voice their solution and concerns.

Some education officials are skeptical of the task force, given at least five committees since 1999 have previously attempted to study and address funding or a teacher shortage, the Argus Leader reported (https://argusne.ws/1Szl22J ).

Rob Monson, the executive director of the School Administrators of South Dakota, said educators are “pessimistically optimistic” that this year’s study is going to be different than any in the past.

“We just need the solutions, we don’t need to study it again to death,” said Rob Monson, the executive director of the School Administrators of South Dakota. “Maybe this time, they’ll move the needle a little bit.”

At the task force meeting, a few called for the end short-term, or “Band-Aid solutions.” Others accused legislators of not prioritizing education during the legislative session.

“We hear this every year, and every year education gets put to the back burner,” said Jackie Beilke, a Sioux Falls art teacher.

But things are different this time around, said Rep. Jacqueline Sly, R-Rapid City. The scope is wider, the process is more involved and the proposed reforms will be more comprehensive, said Sly, a retired teacher herself.

“I would not be co-chairing this if I did not feel that there was hope,” Sly said. “We’re at a very critical point, I think, and it’s at the top of the conversation list.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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