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Governor’s proposal includes tax increase

The Mobridge-Pollock School Board, Monday, Jan. 11, heard Blue Ribbon Task Force member Eric Stroeder report that Gov. Dennis Daugaard would address teacher pay in his state-of-the state message on Tuesday, (Jan. 12.)
Without revealing too much of what the governor would propose, Stroeder told the board the proposal would include a number of proposals to help boost teacher pay. Included would be changes to the state aid to schools funding formula, capital outlay spending changes, combing of “other revenues” to share across the state and changes to district reserves.
He said not every district will be impacted in the same manner. Some districts that have more “other revenue” sources, such as bank taxes and energy taxes, will not be happy about the equal sharing across the districts of these revenues. That aspect of the funding change will happen in five years.
Superintendent Tim Frederick said that part of the proposal would be good for the Mobridge-Pollock School District.
Daugaard’s proposal will base the funding formula on teacher to student ratio. That ratio will slide according to the number of students in the district.
The target for a school with 600 students, like the Mobridge-Pollock District is 15 to 1 students to teacher. That would give the district a target number of 40 teachers on which the state aid funding would be based.
The district has more than 40 teachers, but Stroeder said some staff members are paid with funding from the opt-out. That includes some fine arts and special education staff.
“That is why we have 49 teachers instead of the recommended 45,” he told the board.
He said the fact that a Republican governor is proposing a half-cent sales tax increase is amazing. There will be some in the legislature that will not vote for any kind of tax increase, he added.
“This is not going to solve all of our problems, but it will help,” said Stroeder. “It is very important that we contact our legislators and tell them what we want them to do.”

School calendar
Frederick told the board he has been trying to find a better way to get everyone’s opinion of the school calendar. He has asked for groups for separate submission of calendar proposals. These groups include activities directors and coaches, teachers, administrators and the calendar committee.
He said these considerations will be brought to the board for final approval.
There was a large group of senior students in the boardroom viewing the meeting. Board president Bingo Kindt asked the students if they preferred to take semester tests before going on Christmas vacation or to take them after they returned.
The majority of seniors said they preferred testing before the Christmas break.
That would mean putting the school start date back to the middle of August rather the last week or the first week in September.
“We will get a proposed calendar before you in February,” Frederick told the board. “We are confident we can create a calendar that meets the needs our students and works with the teachers and the community.”

Lenzes resign
The board accepted the resignation of middle school/high school principal Joe Lenz and kindergarten teacher Amber Lenz, effective at the end of the school year.
The board approved advertising to hire for those positions as they stand now.
Any changes will be made after the 2016-2017 kindergarten registration takes place next month.
Frederick said those numbers will dictate in which direction the district will go as far as the kindergarten and junior kindergarten are concerned.
He said until the board decides differently, the advertising will be for the positions as they stand now.
– Katie Zerr –