Officials raise education budget concerns

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

Governor Dennis Daugaard’s budget proposal has raised some eyebrows at local schools.

For the second consecutive year, the state took in lower than anticipated tax revenues. This has caused changes in spending priorities, which means that Rapid City Area Schools (RCAS) may not see an inflationary funding adjustment next year. That would mean RCAS would receive the same funding amounts as this past year.

The school district depends on such funding adjustments to handle costs that change from year to year.

RCAS officials say that Daugaard’s budget proposal deviates from a funding formula developed two years ago. They plan to raise their concerns with state legislators.

However, should education budget cuts have to be made, RCAS officials say they remain committed to making sure students are affected as little as possible.

“We would certainly hope to minimize any effect on students,” said Dave Janak, assistant superintendent for fiscal and support services at RCAS. “Rapid City schools have gone through multiple years of budget reduction and multiple years of having to accommodate different reductions in revenue.

“We have always done everything we can to make those reductions as far away from the classroom as we possibly can to minimize any impact on students.”

The Governor’s budget proposal increases education funding by $20 million, with $16 million for K-12 education. That money will go to school districts with increasing student enrollment.

Rapid City’s student enrollment is not expected to significantly change next year, and RCAS wouldn’t receive any additional funding under the current proposal.

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