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Pierre Still Dropping K-12 Funding Ball, Ranks Last in State Share of K-12 Support

Last updated on 2013.06.22

A Republican friend dropped by the house last week. We debated (quite enjoyably, mind you) a number of Governor Daugaard's policies, including the "new norm" of K-12 education funding that permanently set our schools back five years in the resources they can bring to bear to teach our kids.

"If you think your school needs more money," argued my friend, "why not raise your local spending?"

My response is the same as it was four years ago and one year ago: our local districts are already bearing more than their share of education costs compared to the investments local districts in other states are expected to bear.

Take a look at the June 2012 Census Bureau report on public education finance data. In 2010 (it takes a while to compile all this data), across the U.S., we dedicated $49.82 out of every $1000 of personal income to public K-12 education. In other words, for every dollar they made in 2010, Americans dropped a nickel in their public schools.

In South Dakota, we invested a little less of our wealth in education, $41.72 per $1000 of personal income. That ranks us 47th in the nation.

Now break those numbers down by federal, state, and local sources. Nationally, 12.5% of that share of income dedicated to K-12 public education comes from federal sources. 43.5% comes from state sources, while 44.0% comes from local sources.

In South Dakota, 19.4% comes from federal sources. 30.9% comes from Pierre. 49.7% comes from your local district.

How does South Dakota's imbalance of funding sources compare to other states?

  • We have the 5th highest reliance on federal sources for K-12 revenue relative to personal income. (#1 through #4: North Dakota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Idaho.)
  • Pierre is dead last, 50st, in its share of the K-12 tab. (#49 through #46: Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, and Rhode Island).
  • Our local districts rank 14th in their share of K-12 resources.

And remember: these are figures from 2010. We're still two years shy of seeing what Governor Daugaard's draconian cuts did to that state-local balance in Fiscal Year 2012.

My contention here is not that throwing more money at education makes kids smarter. Whatever amount of money we should spend on education, the ugly fact is that our state government isn't shouldering its fair burden to smooth out local wealth disparities and ensure equal educational opportunities for all students.


  1. Bill Fleming 2012.07.12

    So Cory, as far as education goes, are you saying that our State Government is acting like a deadbeat dad? WTF?

  2. Douglas Wiken 2012.07.12

    Check the state's share of college expenses. Even more discouraging.

  3. Steve O'Brien 2012.07.12

    I would also add that having locals increase their efforts must be done through an opt-out: a very difficult process set up by Pierre as another obstacle for locals to get money into education.

    Pierre sets both the tone and the roadblocks to fund education in South Dakota.

  4. LK 2012.07.12

    What? Opt outs are not easy to pass? Another myth cruelly busted.

  5. Jana 2012.07.12

    Exactly Bill. A deadbeat dad with 128,000 kids. Pierre has proven time and again that these kids are not a priority and if there weren't those pesky constitutional requirements, they would get even less.

    Their willingness to accept being #50...or last place, shows that they just flat out don't care. Pierre is like the kid that is in the 100 yard dash and knows he's going to finish last, so he walks the whole hundred yards....and then has the nerve to be proud of the effort.

    Seriously, #50 and that's even before the Republicans that run the state decided to gouge state spending on our kids even further?

    They will deflect with every excuse they can. Heck, our own Grudznick is sure that if we got rid of reserved teacher parking that we would be just fine.

    It would be interesting to hear a news story on how everyone from the Governor and the legislature on down felt about being in last place.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.12

    Deadbeat Dad, Deadbeat Dennis... do I feel a 2014 campaign slogan coming on?

    Now there is a possible caveat to the above numbers: another Republican friend notes that in South Dakota, schools levy property taxes directly at the local level, while in other states, property taxes go to the state, then the state redistributes back to the local schools, thus affecting those state/local ratios. I need to see some numbers/methodology on that!

  7. Steve Sibson 2012.07.12

    "In South Dakota, 19.4% comes from federal sources. 30.9% comes from Pierre. 49.7% comes from your local district."

    So why does the 19.4% have more than 50% control over the remaining 80%.

    Bill does a deadbeat dad pay for food, provides various forms of entertainment, and promote kids having sex?

  8. larry kurtz 2012.07.12

    overheard in santa fe: "what's the difference between love and herpes?"

  9. Bill Fleming 2012.07.12

    Sibby, your brain has become addled and you're going daft. You need a change in reading material.

  10. Steve Sibson 2012.07.12

    So Bill, there is no school lunch program, no extra-curricular, and no sex education?

  11. Bill Fleming 2012.07.12

    They have nice lunches at Yankton State Hospital, Sibby. And volleyball courts, I think. And a weight room maybe. I don't know about the sex part. Maybe you want to go check it out?

  12. Donald Pay 2012.07.12

    It's even worse when you consider that most of the state aid increase since the mid-1990s has not gone for the purposes of education, but has been funneled through the education budget to provide property tax relief.

  13. John 2012.07.13

    Exactly, Donald. Funneled for property tax relief and to pay for excessive numbers of administrators and not for classrooms and platform instructors.
    I'll be happy to double or triple what I pay for SD secondary education when it gets serious about scholarly outcomes, extends the school year to 230 full contact days per year, dumps extracurricular distractions, cuts the administrative overhead (non-platform positions by half to two-thirds), and pays teachers a living wage. Until they get serious making systemic changes necessary to have the finest scholarly secondary education outcomes don't bother asking for more money to sustain the marginal, non-scholarly performance of the status quo. Doing the same thing while expecting a different result is not a formula for success.

  14. Dave 2012.07.13

    Good luck in trying to cut administrative overhead and other expenses if HB1234 becomes law. Superintendents, principals and other staff will be deluged with a paper blizzard, and it will become more and more difficult to focus on providing a decent education for our kids.

  15. MJL 2012.07.13

    Steve: The food aid comes from a federal grant to assist families and make sure that a child has some basic food security, because without it, the ability to learn greatly decreases. It is not state paid. While some money helps pay for extra-ciricullar programs, they bring into education that can not be found in a normal classroom day for most students. It can also be a huge boost to a community and their sense of pride. Sex-education is not covered enough in schools. I know in my district it is entirely under taught. Most district fear teaching it properly due to fear of getting sued by the religious high and mighty.

  16. Donald Pay 2012.07.14

    John, I agree there are too many administrators, but that is because there are too many school districts, not because each school district has too many administrators. The number of administrators won't come down until there is significant consolidation.

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