Be aware of changes to child nutrition programs
As a result of the recent reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Program, there have been several changes to the stateís nutrition programs. Click here to see a complete list of all the changes to date.

Setting the standard for Service Learning
The South Dakota Board of Education recently tackled the topic of Service Learning. A framework and standards were on the agenda of the boardís November meeting.

Next Generation Science Standards in the news
Last month, KSFY took an in-depth look at the Next Generation Science Standards. The story highlights South Dakotaís role in the process and gives an up-to-date look at where we are headed.

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Secretary's Column
By Dr. Melody Schopp
Department of Education

Governorís budget proposal

You are all aware of the Governorís budget proposal, delivered to the Legislature last week. The Governor has proposed a 2.3 percent increase in the per-student allocation for FY 2013, which would put the PSA at $4,490.92. He also proposed a .7 percent, one-time increase (outside the formula), which is about $30.73 per student, to be distributed directly to schools. And, finally, he is proposing an $8.4 million one-time massive training initiative that would assist districts as you work to implement major initiatives such as the Common Core and teacher standards and evaluation.

Not only was it good to see the proposed increase in the PSA, it was extremely gratifying to know that the Governor understands the challenge we have ahead of us in terms of preparing and training our teachers and school administrators for the major initiatives occurring in our state and across the nation right now. In addition to the focus on Common Core and teacher standards/evaluation training, the Governorís proposal includes training for science educators and for school counselors. And, there is a piece focused on school administrators Ė to support you in your roles as instructional leaders.

If the funding for statewide training is approved, I believe we have the potential to impact student learning in a deep and meaningful way.

Proposed Accountability Model

Back in September, the Accountability Work Group had its first meeting to talk about what the next generation of school accountability should look like in South Dakota. The discussions that group has had over the course of three meetings have been rich and productive. Thatís why it has been exciting to be able share with you a proposed Accountability Model for South Dakota. It isnít perfect, but it is a model that, I believe, is more legitimate and fair than the accountability model we currently have, more easily understood and one that promotes continuous improvement for individual students and schools.

Your feedback during, and following, the conference calls we held this week is much appreciated. I hope that you will keep that feedback coming in the weeks and months head, as we work through this process. Our waiver application is due Feb. 21, so we have time between now and then to improve this proposal.

I want to publicly thank the members of the Accountability Work Group for their commitment to this process, their willingness to be open-minded and to provide honest and valuable feedback.

As you take time to reflect during the holidays, remember that we are blessed to be able to work in a field where we have the opportunity to make a positive difference in young peopleís lives every single day. Thank you for all you do on behalf of South Dakotaís children.

Happy holidays!