Teacher shortages continue to plague South Dakota

Fewer people are entering the teaching profession in South Dakota, as the state ranks last in nation for pay.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 7:28 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Fewer people are going into the teaching profession in South Dakota as the state currently ranks last in the nation when it comes to teacher pay, according to the National Education Association.

Still, pay isn’t always the motivator for future teachers.

“I wanted to be a teacher, and it’s not something that I wanted to get discouraged from as of things going on and other people’s opinion,” said Bell Luebken, a physical education major at Black Hills State University.

Some students who might have gone into education in the past are now choosing other career fields.

“The number of applicants is really where we see teacher shortages showing up first and foremost. Rapid City Area Schools used to get tons of applications when I was applying in the early 90s; it might get 80 applications for an English position. Now we might get five or might get one,” said Interim Superintendent Nicole Swigart, Rapid City Area Schools.

According to a report from South Dakota Newswatch, inflation is a major challenge for administrators to offer competitive salaries to retain and recruit college graduates who can make $15,000 more a year by teaching in Minnesota and $10,000 more in Wyoming.

“One thing that gets a little bit complicated in that scenery is that if a district loses students, then their funding goes down, but they may not be able to just, you know... have less teachers necessarily,” said Swigart.

But for education major Shelby Acre at Black Hills State University, she’s not motivated by the money she can make; she says she’s excited about new teaching methods.

“Coming with new aspects and different ways to teach students, educational aspects online that you can use like PowerPoint, word a lot of students can use that to do projects and stuff like when it was mostly paper and pencil,” said elementary education major Shelby Acre at Black Hills State University.

Gov. Kristi Noem proposed a 5 percent increase in state aid to education for the 2024 fiscal year as part of her $7.2 billion budget plan. That hike has to be approved by the state Legislature which is currently in session.