We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Friday, February 15, 2008

Legislative Notes: Dyslexia Bill Down, Minimum Pay Bill Up

As expected, the South Dakota State Legislature is saving its highest priority, education, for last. Let's see what's going on:

--The Senate Education Committee deferred HB 1291, the dyslexia bill, to the 36th day -- i.e., the bill is mostly dead. Cory Klumper called me the other day to discuss the coverage you read here, then got hold of Dr. Uttermark herself and gave the bill and its ramifications some wider play on SDPB. Senators Gray, Nesselhuf, Ed Olson, Jerstad, Jim Peterson, and Knudson gave HB 1291 the thumbs down; only Senator McNenny voted against (mostly) killing it.

--The Legislature may make raises for teachers happen, but not without some strings. HB 1124 has been hoghoused into the minimum teacher pay bill that's making headlines. The idea of a minimum salary for teachers is worth considering, but it seems rather irresponsible of our legislators to vote to require all teachers be paid at least $30K a year by 2011 but not do the hard work of coming up with the money to fund that minimum salary. The bill specifies no revenue source for this new minimum; school districts have to do that on their own. ("Have to"? Interestingly, HB 1124 doesn't appear to contain any enforcement mechanism....)

Fair notice: our man Russ voted Nay on HB 1124! I'll give him the benefit of the doubt tonight and attribute his vote to a desire to fight unfunded mandates...

...but there is a lot of mandate this bill does fund. HB 1124 does come up with some state money to fund annual incentives for the teachers willing to jump through the hoops created in the bill's new three-tier salary system: a thousand bucks a year to move up from Level I to Level II, and $5000 a year to move from Level II to Level III.

Note that a lot of this cost will kick in right away in 2010, when the state declares every teacher with three or more years of experience to be at Level II and thus eligible for the $1000 raise from the state. In 2011, every teacher with at least six year of experience, an advanced degree, and good evals gets the level II designation and $5000 raise. That looks like pretty good money: will the designated teacher compensation assistance program funds be enough to cover it, or will the Legislature have to back their part of the plan with a tax increase?

Also worth considering: what impact will this bill have on local authority to set salary schedules? Assuming the local districts have any budget left after granting all the raises to the minimum, will schools still be able to implement their various salary schedules based on years of service and additional coursework? Nothing in the bill seems to say they can't, but with this new layer of state bureaucracy, will they want to?

Some little things to note about HB 1124:
  1. It changes (Section 18) the nature of the very thin "tenure" South Dakota teachers have. Instead of three years, "tenure" will now be granted when a teacher reaches Level II -- one more motivation for teachers jump through those hoops. (But remember: all tenure means for South Dakota's K-12 teachers is that if the board doesn't renew your contract, they have to give you a reason, and you can appeal.)
  2. It creates (Section 19) a new board, the "Certified Teacher and School Service Specialist Classification and Evaluation System Advisory Board within the Department of Education." The CTSSSCESAB (next amendment: better acronym!) will include three teachers (yay!) three administrators, three school board members, three legislators, and three persons "engaged in business." Engaged in business? Does that include librarians? construction workers? grandmas? cops? How does the entrepreneurial class rank special appointment to this government board, and not the rest of us?

Teachers, administrators, students, everybody else: HB 1124 is headed for the Senate next week. Weigh in with your thoughts now!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.