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Letter from the Secretary
SD Department of Education March 2016  
Letter from the Secretary

I’ve worked in education for 40 years—the last 16 at the Department of Education. In those years, I’ve been involved in numerous policy decisions, and I estimate that every year during legislative session, the department analyzes, monitors or testifies on about 50 bills.

Of those hundreds of bills, House Bill 1182, Gov. Daugaard’s bill to raise the state sales tax to fund a new education funding formula and increase teacher pay, is the most critical of all. On March 1, it passed the state Senate and will now head to the Governor’s desk. This legislative session is a historic one for education.

There is no rule, no statute, no educational practice that outweighs the impact of having a great teacher in every classroom. Increasing the state sales tax will provide an ongoing funding source to assure that South Dakota’s teacher salaries are competitive, so that we can keep the best and brightest in our state, attract them and retain them.

The two bills containing the funding changes and policy related to the Governor’s Blue Ribbon proposal – SB 131 and 133 – have both passed the full Senate, and await debate on the House floor.

Never before have I seen so many groups – not just educators, but representatives from the business community as well -- come together in strong support of a piece of legislation. I am grateful to all of those people who have worked so hard throughout this process.


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