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Letter from the Secretary

SD Department of Education
Feb. 2017  
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Photo of Melody Schopp, SD Secretary of Education Letter from the Secretary

The 2017 Legislative Session is underway, and the pace is gradually picking up. Compared to previous years, the number of education-related bills is fairly small. The status of bills is continually in flux, but as I write this, here are a few bills of interest:

HB 1021 simplifies the payment process for certain students at certain residential treatment centers. If it passes, the state would pay 100 percent of the tuition directly to the treatment center. The tuition rate for these students would also increase. SB 33 and SB 35 are state aid bills related to the Governor’s budget proposal.

HB 1022 and SB 30 are what we call ‘clean-up’ bills. These are generally non-controversial bills that seek to update or remove outdated language in state statutes. HB 1022 removes education service agency language from the books, since the ESAs are no longer funded and haven’t been funded since 2011. SB 30 updates language regarding high school equivalency testing by removing references to the GED.

SB 65 is the result of Amendment R, which South Dakota voters approved in November. It would establish the South Dakota Board of Technical Education, giving the state’s four technical institutes a voice at the state level, similar to the Board of Regents.

The work of updating South Dakota’s educator certification system continues to move ahead. At its Jan. 19 meeting, the state Board of Education held the first of two public hearings on the proposed rule changes.

These proposals have been more than two years in the making, during which department staff worked with stakeholders at all levels of our state education system: K-12 and postsecondary. The last time a certification system overhaul of this magnitude occurred was in the mid-90’s.

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to review the proposed changes. There is a summary document available on the Department of Education website. The rules are posted for public comment at rules.sd.gov. To access them, click into the Department of Education link.

The second public hearing on the proposed rules will be held at the state Board of Education’s March 20 meeting in Aberdeen.

As always, thank you for everything you do on behalf of South Dakota students.


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