Noem: no increase in teacher pay in 2021 budget, area schools feel the effects

Governor Kristi Noem elaborating on her proposed 2021 budget proposal in Rapid City on Wednesday. (KEVN)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Zero percent. That's the proposed increase for teachers salaries suggested by Gov. Kristi Noem in her 2021 budget proposal.

"So obviously I would do more if there was more revenue. It has been a very difficult year in South Dakota, its been a lot of families hit by disasters, I think there's certain responsibility state government has and that's where I tried to focus the dollars that we do have," said Noem.

In 2016, the Blue Ribbon Task Force recommended teachers salaries increase by the consumer price index or 3% each year. But over past few years, South Dakota teachers' salaries have not reached that expectation.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force, which is a general recommendation passed by the legislature in 2016, suggests an increase in the target teacher salary by the consumer price index of three percent each year.. but in the last few years, South Dakota teachers' salaries have not reached that expectation.

Dr. Lori Simon is the Superintendent of Rapid City Area Schools.

"Because we haven't kept pace with the promises that came with the statue, districts around us and ourselves are having a really, really tough time recruiting, retaining, and hiring teachers," said Simon.

Before the new funding formula went into effect in 2016, South Dakota was 51st in the nation for teacher pay. In recent years the state has climbed that number, but with no increase this year, school officials are concerned about going backwards.

"And yet we're supposed to meet state accountabilities for teacher salaries, that put districts in a world of hurt," said Simon.

Simon said it's challenging, and no increase actually results in a decrease for districts due to inflationary costs each year.

"We just simply in the public sector in South Dakota, do not meet market averages when you look around us," said Simon.

Although Noem didn't propose increasing salaries for teachers, she did choose to fund the special education rebase which will add $14 million dollars in schools across South Dakota, saying the state is planning on addressing "unique" challenges in school districts.