Either Governor Daugaard wasn't terribly wedded to this proposal, or four Senators just dropped off the Daugaard Christmas list.

Governor Daugaard sought to soothe the blow of cutting state K-12 aid 10% with the at least philosophical palliative of repealing the state-mandated consolidation of school districts whose enrollment drops below 100 kids. HB 1229 rolled through the House on a strong majority. The Governor sent his Policy and Communications chief Tony Venhuizen and Secretary of Education Melody Schopp to Senate Education this morning to tell the senators to hand back the local control Governor Rounds and the Legislature took away four years ago. But Senate Education looked Venhuizen and Schopp in the eye and said Nay.

It was a close Nay, 4–3, with Senators Bradford, Rave, and Garnos still wanting to give small communities the freedom to keep their tiny schools going. Senators Gray, Schlekeway, Kraus, and Johnston, all Republicans who hail from Class AA school districts, voted to keep the 100-student limit.

Bonus Amendment Proposal: Maybe instead of consolidating schools, we could consolidate administration. Some eager readers and bloggers have been grumbling about high wages for superintendents and other school administrators. KELO posts a list showing South Dakota's K-12 administrators ranked 48th in the nation for average pay in 2009, with an average salary of $65,590. KELO also lists all South Dakota K-12 superintendent salaries for last school year. We could eliminate all school district superintendent positions and create county school supervisors. Let's see, combine about 150 school district positions into 66 county positions... we free up about $5.3 million statewide to spend on other educational priorities. Not much, but it's a step. Anyone care to smoke out HB 1229 and amend it to combine administrators, not districts?