SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Republican Rep. Tim Reisch said he used to believe that it wasn’t a big deal that South Dakota ranked 50th in teacher pay.
After all, South Dakota doesn’t have income taxes and teachers get the summer off, Reisch said in the Feb. 8 House Education Committee meeting.
Reisch said he’s now ashamed he felt that way because that narrow attitude that has contributed to the teacher shortage in South Dakota.
Reisch is seeking to pass House Bill 1214. The bill is “an act to make an appropriation to address the rising number of teacher vacancies throughout the state and to declare an emergency.” It includes dedicating $1 from the general fund to the Department of Education to address the shortage.
The intent of $1 was to have the Senate address a dollar amount as it discusses an expected $300 million of ongoing revenues above the Legislature’s estimate for the current budget year, once his bill passed out of committee. Reisch said he’s working with several entities, including the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, to develop plans and ideas for the bill.
Reisch said the money could be used to develop new ideas or build on ways to encourage students in the state to become teachers. Reisch said money is not the only issue contributing to the shortage. He was advised by a colleague to add more details to HB1214.
Wade Pogany, the executive director of the school boards group, said Reisch’s bill could be used to access general fund money for the South Dakota Department of Education’s teacher apprenticeship program.
The bill is needed because the teacher shortage is critical, Reisch said. In December of 2021, the state had 111 openings. In December of 2022, there were 176 openings.
“We are in the middle of the school year in December and we have 176 vacancies,” Reisch said.
The number of vacancies nearly tripled in a decade from 2011-2012 to 2021-2022, Reisch said.
There were 1,067 openings in 2011-2012 and 3,154 in 2021-2022, he said.
“Other than my bill on rehiring of retired teachers, I’ve yet to see another measure that will address this specific issue,” Reisch said.
The House Education Committee advised Reisch to take some time to more fully develop his bill to address the teacher shortage in South Dakota.
Education committee chair Republican Rep. Mike Stevens said he was not comfortable taking action on bill without it having more details. The committee agreed and deferred the bill for discussion until Monday, Feb. 13.