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SD Department of Education March 2015  
 
 
Letter from the Secretary

The legislative session is winding down, and as always, it has been busy. Emotions run high and debates get heated when it comes to education. That’s to be expected. Because whether we’re parents, educators, government officials or some combination thereof, we all want the best for kids. At least on that point, we can all agree.

You are likely aware of a bill that attempted to end South Dakota’s involvement with the Common Core standards. After failing in committee, there was an attempted “smokeout” of the bill. This is a process by which legislators attempt to bring up a bill for floor debate, despite its failure in committee. I want to thank each and every one of you who contacted your legislators to voice your support for the standards. You made a difference. The smokeout failed, and we heard from legislators that contacts from educators influenced their decision to vote against it.

The remaining days of session will focus on the appropriations process. Early next week, legislators will receive revenue estimates, which will allow them to make final decisions regarding the FY 16 budget.

I also know many of you have questions about the Governor’s recent announcement of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students, which will study education funding over the next year and make recommendations to the 2016 Legislature. I expect this work will ramp up significantly once legislative session concludes, and we will keep you updated as we get more information.

Finally, as we approach the testing window for the state assessment, I want to thank school administrators for your diligence in preparing for things to run as smoothly as possible. As with any massive undertaking like this, we know there will be challenges along the way. Our staff is ready to help you address these challenges. Each district has been assigned a DOE contact from our assessment staff. These individuals, as well as our colleagues in BIT and our vendor, stand ready to assist when challenges arise.
 
     
 

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