Teachers worry proposed 3% education increase isn't enough - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Teachers worry proposed 3% education increase isn't enough

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 Lawmakers will gather in Pierre on Tuesday for the first day of the 2013 legislative session...

 On the table this time around - hot-button topics like gun control, oil exploration, higher education and funding for South Dakota's public schools. Governor Dennis Daugaard recommends that state aid to school districts be increased by 3% to account for inflation, but some educators say it's not enough.

 The superintendent of the West Central School District tells us he hopes this session brings more funding to schools. He's worried the budget cutbacks may drive some away from teaching. We met with a former teacher who left the classroom to find a new passion in Pierre.

 "I have a lot of colleagues who have talked about teaching because we were passionate about it and we want to do it but you also have to feed your family and keep a roof over your head and clothe yourself." Former West Central teacher Paula Hawks is now Representative Paula Hawks. She wants more funding than what the governor recommends. "It's definitely not enough. No. By state law, we have to do 3% and we should be doing 3% but it would definitely be nice to have the revenue to increase that amount and fund schools fully."

 West Central school district superintendent Jeff Danielson agrees more funding is needed. "Because growing only at the statutorily obligated amount, will not get us back on those pre-budget cut amounts. We'll never grow by the amount necessary to get us back on track."

 And since the state is projecting a budget surplus -- Hawks says she would like education to have bigger piece of the pie. "When you're running a business or household even, you keep a certain amount in reserves. Then you have to plan for unexpected things.  But I don't know that saving it for a rainy day when it's already raining pretty hard, is really a good excuse." As school districts deal face funding issues -- teachers have their own budget issues to deal with. "It is going to get more and more difficult for teachers, professional teachers to stay in that profession, simply because you have to keep up with expenses. If you cant do that in your profession, you might have to find something else to do."

 Hawks says West Central was fortunate to not lose staff.
 Instead -- they cut the budget for some programs and classroom supplies.
 She says teachers and parents try to pick up the slack when they can but it takes it's toll.


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