- Associated Press - Sunday, July 31, 2016

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - The average salary for teachers in South Dakota’s rural school districts is projected to be well behind a state goal despite a new tax increase that’s supposed to increase pay.

When Gov. Dennis Daugaard increased the sales tax by half-cent in March, the goal was to raise the average teacher salary in the state from $40,000 to $48,500, The Daily Republic (https://bit.ly/2aDX9Zp) reported.

School district numbers show that the average teacher salary in the region ranges from more than $39,000 to nearly $48,000 for the upcoming school year.

Bon Homme School District Superintendent Mike Elsberry said he believes rural school districts are at a disadvantage because salary increases are based on enrollment and student-teacher ratios. He says small fluctuations in these numbers are more noticeable at small districts than large ones.

Elsberry said that before the funding plan passed, each of the state’s school districts received an estimate of how much money it would receive with the teacher pay increase. But the funding formula changed thought the legislative session.

The Bon Homme district received nearly $78,000, instead of the more than $333,000 originally projected. Salaries for each of the 51 teachers in the district increased by $4,000, leaving the district’s average salary well below the state’s target at just over $40,000.

“It sure wasn’t beneficial to us (this year),” Elsberry said. “We were disappointed - hugely disappointed - because we thought we weren’t going to be able to do anything.”

To keep its district competitive with others, Bon Homme pulled from various other accounts and generated more than $127,000 to raise teachers’ salaries.


Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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