SD Education Secretary Optimistic Budget Increase For Teacher Pay Will Slow Departures


     South Dakota Education Secretary Joe Graves told the South Dakota Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee this week that the state is experiencing a teacher shortage at the same time K-12 enrollment is growing with money a big factor..

      Education Department figures show enrollment in public K-12 schools in South Dakota has risen 10% since 2012 with per pupil costs rising nearly 36% from $7,752 to $10,527 last school year – ranking the state 39th in expenditures per student.

       Secretary Graves said some teachers are “leaving the profession in exasperation over COVID and some of the other issues that are going on,” but that low pay is a big reason for the exodus and resulting shortage.

     The Associated School Boards of South Dakota says posted job openings for teachers exceeded a record 3,000 last year.

      The average teacher salary in South Dakota ranks 40th in the nation at $49,547 – an average of $10,000 less than in its neighboring states except for Montana, which pays its teachers about $3,500 more.

    Gov. Kristi Noem proposed a 5% raise for teachers in her budget with a $24-million dollar increase in the Dept of Education budget to pay for it.

      In presenting the budget proposal to the Joint Appropriations Committee, Graves expressed optimism higher pay and the threat of a recession will both help reduce the teacher shortage next school year.

     Graves said an economic recession usually actually helps the education profession by making teaching jobs look more secure and steady.