Will a six percent rise in SD teacher salaries be enough?

With South Dakota ranked as low as 49th in some studies for teacher salaries, a recommendation for a six percent rise in wages by Governor Kristi Noem raises questions how much is needed.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — South Dakota teachers and other school staff may see a significant rise in their salaries for the next school year.

Sd Teachers 8At the annual budget address, Governor Kristi Noem made a recommendation for South Dakota Legislators to allocate funds towards education that would equate to a six percent increase in teacher’s and other school staff salaries.

“Those folks really are not keeping pace with other states and we need them to know that they’re valued and that we do want them here, and we do want them continuing to educate our children and help support them to be successful,” Gov. Noem said.

But in this case, it’s not just about paying teachers more.

Noem says that the state’s efforts go beyond trying to recruit teachers but also keep the ones already in its school systems.

“We have seen all of these salaries decrease in comparison to the industry outside of government outside of the state of South Dakota, and we need to stay competitive so that we can keep these positions filled,” Gov. Noem said.

According to multiple studies like this one from Education Week, South Dakota ranks near the bottom of all states in estimated salaries for teachers in 2021.

The Rapid City Area School District that has over 130 positions open (including 34 teaching and other licensed positions), and Dr. Lori Simon, the Superintendent of RCAS says salary increases are a step in the right direction.

“That really would be extremely beneficial for us to increase not only the wages of our salaries and our other licensed staff, but the salaries for our classified staff as well in in a way that would be significant enough so that we could better compete for for those potential employees in our district,” said Dr. Simon said.

Dr. Simon also pointed to the worker shortage that’s impacted many other industries nationwide, where companies raise their salaries causing RCAS to not be able to compete for those workers.

But the fight to keep teachers and pay them well in South Dakota goes a step farther.

Governor Noem highlighted inflation throughout her budget address.

Another worry for incoming teachers and therefore the school district, a housing market that’s seen a rise in costs and shortage of inventory over the past two years.

For RCAS and schools around the state, the question now becomes is the recommended six percent rise in salaries enough.

“If we could see a significant increase to education funding that is going to help us in our hiring efforts and in our retention efforts for the school year,” Dr. Simon said.

Categories: Local News, Politics & Elections, South Dakota News