Friday, December 5, 2014

Wismer, Democrats vow education, EB-5 fight

South Dakota teachers didn't get the break they were looking for in Gov. Dennis Daugaard's spending plan for the state's next budget cycle. Democrats had hoped Daugaard would tackle the state's teacher shortage. Advocates say inadequate pay is a serious barrier to attracting teachers to the state, which ranks last in the nation for teacher compensation, according to the National Education Association. "I continue to be disappointed that this governor refuses to recognize the crisis he continues to create for our local communities," Rep. Susan Wismer said. Teacher pay was a splitting point in the governor's race, which the Democrat lost in November. "He's just conducting a war of attrition particularly on our smallest schools in the state." [Associated Press], links mine.
Photo: Representative Susan Wismer and running mate Susy Blake enjoy a close moment at the Democratic Convention in Yankton.

South Dakota's teacher shortage could get far worse.
A new report from the Associated School Boards of South Dakota show that the teacher shortage in the state could accelerate rapidly in the next few years. Information from the South Dakota Retirement System and eight South Dakota colleges and universities shows the number of potential teacher retirees surpasses the number of potential new teachers by 278 in 2015, with approximately 427 fewer teaching candidates coming in 2016. Yankton School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Kindle says it is going to make a bad situation worse. [WNAX]
Kindle says that the Yankton district is trying to stay ahead of the curve, that higher pay is only part of the solution and they are getting fewer applicants with even less experience than in the past.
In the recent elections, Ray Ring won a second term in the South Dakota House of Representative representing District 17. He was first elected in 2012. Ring said he looks forward to changing things for the better as much as he is able. Also on his agenda is more funds for education, fitting since Ring recently served on the Education committee in the legislature. “We’re still pushing hard for increases in education spending,” Ring said. “We have to do something about teacher salaries.” Expanding Medicaid is an action that Ring believes makes sense in a moral and practical way. [Sarah Wetzel, Vermillion Plain Talk]
A report from a GOP-heavy legislative committee has blamed the dead former Governors Office of Economic Development employee, Richard Benda, for the EB-5 scandal:
Democrats on the committee disagreed with the conclusion that Benda was the sole person at fault. "I don't believe that Richard Benda was the only one involved in this," said state Sen. Larry Lucas, D-Mission. The committee deliberately decided not to investigate the private company Bollen founded to help run the EB-5 program, SDRC Inc. Lucas stood by his call for more investigations into Bollen's private company. In particular, he highlighted the question of who owned SDRC Inc. Bollen founded the company in January 2008 but told the committee in written remarks that he didn't consider himself the company's owner for another year and a half. "I believe... that there are state laws that have been broken, particularly by Joop Bollen," Lucas said. Democrats, Lucas said, are considering filing a "minority report" about EB-5 -- though it's unclear whether the committee's rules allow a formal minority report. [David Montgomery, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]

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