South Dakota districts sharing teachers with new grants from state

Some school districts in South Dakota are using new state incentives that allow them to share teachers and, in the process, expand learning opportunities for their students. As part of a package of bills passed by the Legislature to address a shortage of teachers (HB 1182 and SBs 131 and 133), the state created the Employee Shared Service Grant program. The grants last for three years, with aid to the participating districts gradually dropping over that time period. With these grants, districts are hiring and sharing Spanish, arts, and English-language-learner teachers. 

South Dakota’s new law also invests in local projects to expand online learning opportunities, so that qualified instructors can reach students remotely. 

The state is facing teacher shortages in various areas. And while part of the legislative response was to boost teacher salaries (via a sales tax increase that will raise average pay from $40,000 to $48,500), lawmakers tried to address the teacher-workforce problem in other ways — for example, funding programs that match new and veteran teachers, as well as professional-development opportunities for new instructors in the summers between their first and second years in the profession.
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Stateline Midwest: September 20162.31 MB