- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A state panel studying school funding and teacher pay should examine “all options” when making recommendations to lawmakers on how to improve South Dakota’s education system, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Tuesday.

Daugaard said the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students meeting this week must not push for or write off policy change without understanding its effectiveness. Options could include raising revenue and school consolidation.

“Everything is on the table. There are some who have asked me to rule out certain policy decisions, and … I’m unwilling to do that,” he said. “There are some who have asked us to jump immediately to policy proposals … but that position proceeds on an assumption that there’s nothing to be learned from self-examination, from examination of our own history, from the examination of other states who differ from us, and I believe there is something to be learned.”

Education funding could be a major focus for the 2016 session, Daugaard said.

Daugaard and Republican legislative leaders in February announced the creation of the task force following calls from Democratic legislators and education officials to boost teacher pay. It strives for high student achievement, excellent teachers and a funding system to support them both.

The governor said the panel follows in the footsteps of groups that have studied the state’s adult and juvenile justice systems, leading to major overhauls of both.

Republican Rep. Jacqueline Sly, a leader of the education task force, said expectations are high.

“Do something,” Sly said, recounting what she’s heard. “Don’t just have this task force and have nothing come out of it.”


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