The message delivered by South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard in his Dec. 5 budget speech was frustrating, Hot Springs School Superintendent Kevin Coles said last week, because it failed to include an increase in state per pupil funding to account for inflation.
“He never delivers good news for education. He said zero increase,” Coles told members of the district’s school board at their regular meeting on Dec. 11. “He says schools have enough money.”
State law says that schools should receive an increase of 3 percent, or the amount of increase in the Consumer Price Increase, whichever is less, but the governor didn’t include the 1.7 percent CPI in his proposed spending on education, said Coles. “Instead of that being a given, we have to fight for the 1.7 percent the state is supposed to give us,” he said.
Coles said the governor’s budget address generally doesn’t include good news for education, and that citizens should “let legislators know that education needs adequate funding.”
In a report to the board, members of Hot Springs High School Student Council said they are looking forward to attending the state Student Council meeting in Rapid City. In order to attend the two-day event student council members have to attend their regular meetings and a regents meeting and participate in council fundraisers, the board was told. The council is also focused on a food drive for items to benefit the local food pantry, vice president Diamond Miller told the board. “We thought it would be special at this time of year,” she said.
The elementary school student council has started a recycling project, principal John Fitzgerald said in his report to the board. “It’s a good opportunity to teach kids about recycling and taking care of the environment,” he said.
The middle school student council has also been active, with projects that include creating craft items for nursing home residents and delivering proceeds from a fundraiser to the cancer care center in Rapid City, said school principal Liz Baker.
The district has submitted an application to the state for a literacy coaching position that is aimed at helping students who are struggling with reading, curriculum director Samantha Weaver reported to the board. The state will pay for the first three years of the five year project, which has a primary goal of having all students proficient in reading when they enter the fourth grade, Weaver said. “Only nine schools will get this. We hope we are one,” she said.
Monday’s board meeting included only a few action items. The board approved the transfer of $10,000 from the food service fund to the general fund, on the recommendation of business manager Deb Oellrich. The action will clear up an inactive item that has been on the balance sheet for several years, Oellrich said.
Also approved by unanimous votes were first reading of a support services policy change and second reading of a change in the district’s fiscal management policy.