REP. JUSTIN CRONIN: It was a really big week in Pierre

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This week was a really big week for education as a lot of the bills will affect the educational community here in South Dakota.

SB 25 took its share of amendments and title changes before it finally passed the house education committee. This bill will impact the education accountability system for public elementary and secondary school. It will bring a process for teacher and principal evaluation and a criteria to demonstrate student preparedness for college and career.

SB 192 came to the house floor with many representatives thinking that there was an earmark inside the bill, meaning that there was money going towards something else. We deferred the bill to give more time to discuss and understand the logistics of what this bill was actually doing. SB 192 tied $8.4 million for the training of our teachers, counselors, and school leaders to help prepare our students for college and careers. On the first day they removed the $8.4 million and left a bill that mandates a training but without funding. It was deferred and then re-amended to put the money back in. So as originally, there will be funding for teacher and administrator training on the common core standards.

HB 1234 is another bill that took a facelift this week. It will allow local control on all levels with funding and bonuses going towards areas of critical needs, offering the local school discernment in working with continuing contracts. This has become a bill for the people and will allow the citizens to have their needs met in their specific regions. The one thing we do want to do at the state level is to promote subjects such as math and science and also to pay our best teachers more. These two things will promote student achievement and will promote the end goal of making South Dakota’s education one of the best in the nation.

Remember that all of you have a very crucial part to play in the coming weeks. Not only do we need your input on the many important issues but we need your physical support as well. The more people we can have in the committee hearings and the gallery of each chamber does make a huge impact on the way legislators perceive an issue. Please call any of us representing District 23 at any time on any issue and we would be happy to have you join us at your Capitol and be a part of your government.

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