By Dr. Melody Schopp
Department of Education
Legislative session winding down, sequester gearing up
Next week begins the final week of the legislative session, when law makers will make key decisions about education funding and other important topics. In the education arena, the following concepts for one-time funds remain alive and viable: funding for ESAs, CTE grants, classroom innovation grants. Bills to create a critical teaching needs scholarship (SB 233) and to create a needs-based scholarship for SD students entering postsecondary (SB 237) remain alive as well. The bill to provide additional funding for ELL students is in House Appropriations; this one would be a change to the formula. And, of course, law makers need to decide on basic formula funding and setting of levies as well. So, the first few days of next week will be telling.
Sequestration is on the minds of many as well. The latest information we have from the chief state school officers’ organization is that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is projecting a 5.1 percent across the board cut to all nondefense discretionary programming or roughly $2.5 billion from the U.S. Department of Education’s overall budget. Advanced-funded programs such as Title I and Special Education will not be retroactively cut. Rather, the full 5.1 percent cut would be implemented at the next allocation. Our understanding is that Impact Aid dollars could be impacted immediately. We will continue to share information we receive on this issue as it become available.
As always, thank you for your work on behalf of South Dakota’s students.