- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A state task force on school funding has determined it will take at least $75 million and a new K-12 funding formula to make South Dakota teacher salaries competitive.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Republican lawmakers created the task force earlier this year. It strives for high student achievement, excellent teachers and a funding system to support them both.

Group members didn’t determine where the money will come from at its final meeting Thursday, the Argus Leader reports (https://argusne.ws/1MxjYgx ). Members did agree on the need for a new school funding formula - one based on various targets for teacher salaries, student-teacher ratios and non-instructional costs rather than the current per-student model.

No agreement was reached on firm numbers for each target, and members instead opted for some loose guidelines such as a $48,000 average for teacher salaries. South Dakota teachers currently make an average of about $40,000 a year. The task force couldn’t agree to a student-teacher ratio.

Task force members reached the $75 million target by multiplying the number of teachers in the state by the $8,000 gap in the current average salary and the loose guideline set by the group.

Details of the funding formula will be left to the governor or the 2016 Legislature.

A final report is expected in a couple of weeks.

“This has been tough work, important work,” said Sen. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls. “We have lot of work to do to move it forward now.”

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

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