ABCs of House Bill 1234
A comprehensive education package, HB 1234 received much debate during the 2012 legislative session. What exactly does the bill do? In short, it lays the groundwork for a $15 million investment in the teaching profession. Some of these funds will go to scholarships; others will go to bonuses for South Dakota teachers. The following is a brief summary, but readers are strongly encouraged to view the full bill. Readers should also note that HB 1234 may be referred to a public vote.
• HB 1234 establishes a scholarship program designed to draw potential teachers into critical need areas (not just math and science).
• The state Board of Education will determine critical teaching need areas.
• Scholarship recipients agree to teach in critical need areas in South
Dakota for five years.
• HB 1234 offers $2,500 bonuses for middle and high school math and science teachers to build that pipeline.
• Teachers with a math or science specialist endorsement, including
elementary teachers, also are eligible.
• Teacher must receive distinguished or proficient rating on statewide
• Participation is voluntary for teachers.
• HB 1234 gives local districts the flexibility to create a local plan to give bonuses to teachers based on student achievement, teacher leadership or a district’s high-needs teaching areas. Districts that choose this option would receive approximately $1,000 per teacher.
• A 2nd option for districts is to reward the top 20 percent of its teachers
with a $5,000 bonus (per the original proposal).
• Participation in either of the above options is voluntary for teachers.
• A 3rd option for districts is to opt out of the rewards program. If a district
chooses this option, its funds would be redistributed among participating
• HB 1234 calls for establishment of a common teacher evaluation system statewide, based on the South Dakota standards for teaching (Danielson Framework).
• It also calls for establishment of common standards and a common statewide evaluation system for principals.
• HB 1234 removes the state mandate for continuing contract (also referred to as “tenure”) as of July 1, 2016.
• Local districts may choose to offer continuing contract if they wish.
• Those individuals who have continuing contract by July 1, 2016, are
As part of HB 1234, legislators set up six work groups, consisting of wide representation from the field, to help frame the future of these education reforms. The groups are listed below.
• Critical needs scholarship board
• Local teacher reward advisory council
• Local teacher reward plan oversight board
• Teacher evaluation group
• Principal evaluation group
• Education reform advisory council
Another piece of legislation, SB 192, provides for a comprehensive statewide training effort in four key areas: Common Core, middle and high school science, school counseling, and leadership training for school administrators.