United States

DOE Secretary: South Dakota teachers leaving profession in ‘exasperation’

(The Center Square) – South Dakota is experiencing a teacher shortage as some leave the profession, Department of Education Secretary Joe Graves told the Joint Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

“We’ve seen people who are just leaving the profession in exasperation over COVID and some of the other issues that are going on,” Graves said during his budget presentation to the committee. “I do think there’s a strong project right now for an economic recession that will actually help the education profession. It usually does because when an economic recession occurs, those jobs are certain to look better.”

In her state budget address, Gov. Kristi Noem proposed a 5% raise for teachers.

The Associated School Board of South Dakota questioned whether that would be enough in a blog post and handout provided to the committee.

The average teacher salary in South Dakota is $49,547 and ranks 40th in the nation, according to the ASBSD. Montana teachers make $3,500 a year more than South Dakota educators on average. The other border states pay teachers an average of $10,000 more, according to the organization.

The 5% raise would cost the state $24 million, but for just $14 million more, teacher salaries could be raised by 8%, according to the ASBSD.

The state has fewer teachers but more students, according to the ASBSD. Posted job openings for teachers exceeded a record 3,000 during the 2021-2022 school year, according to the ASBSD.

Enrollment has increased in the state’s public schools by 12,000 in the past 10 years.

“With more students comes the need for more resources, services, staff members and teachers,” the ASBSD said in its handout and blog post. “As student enrollment increases, funding levels must meet the enrollment growth to continue to provide the excellent public education currently provided in public school districts.”

The fiscal year 2024 budget recommendation for the Department of Education is $1 billion, a $24 million increase from fiscal year 2023’s base budget. DOE figures show enrollment in the state’s K-12 schools has increased by 10% since 2012.

The cost per student increased from $7,752 per student in 2012 to $10,527 per student in 2022, a 35.8% increase. The state ranks 39th in expenditures per student based on 2022 figures, according to the DOE.

Graves will continue presenting his budget to the Joint Committee on Appropriations on Thursday.

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