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Leola Superintendent: Teacher Pay Depends on State Funding

Rebuttal of the week to gubernatorial malarkey on K-12 education funding comes from Leola superintendent Brian Heupel, who offers this observation on Governor Dennis Daugaard's persistent shirking of responsibility for South Dakota's perennial barrel-bottom teacher pay:

"The governor always says that the local school boards determine teacher pay," Heupel said. "Well, I look at it, when I was growing up, if my dad gave me 50 cents, I couldn't go to the store and buy something for a dollar" [Patrick Anderson, "Teacher Shortage Stories," that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.01.22].

The teacher shortage is real. Heupel and his colleagues in Flandreau, Alcester-Hudson, Chamberlain, and Estelline aren't making it up. And the amount the Governor is willing to spend on education is directly responsible for our continued sorry state.


  1. 96Tears 2015.01.23

    Only in South Dakota does publicly stating the obvious entails a political price. The power structure in Pierre, no doubt, has put this public servant on their political shit list.

  2. jerry 2015.01.23

    Superintendent Heupel is absolutely correct. We need to go back in our recent history and revive the way to fund schools as well as infrastructure.

    This would not only keep our teachers here in South Dakota with the pay they deserve, but it would make it safer for the children they teach to get from point A to point B without going into the point C, the ditch.

  3. Moses 2015.01.23


  4. Owen reitzel 2015.01.23

    Well said Mr Heupel

  5. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.23

    When Janklow was gov a school administrator from northeast SD wrote a personal letter to him about a school issue. I think he might have been from Rosholt, but I'm not sure. I don't remember what the issue was either, but neither is important.

    Because the letter expressed disagreement with him, Janklow attacked like the bully he was. He had an English teacher go over the administrator's letter with a fine tooth comb. Then Janklow had the letter published in more than one newspaper, along with the other teacher's corrections and Janklow's own scathing and cruel commentary. Janklow never addressed the issue. He humiliated that gentleman statewide for privately disagreeing with the biggest bully of all. Janklow's behavior brought shame on himself and the entire state.

    I hope Daugard treats Mr. Heupel with respect and courtesy.

  6. CLCJM 2015.01.24

    I wouldn't hold my breath on Dudley Do-wrong doing anything about this. Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest. We have to adequately fund education ans raise wages. The problem is not lack of money but political will.If we want SD to be a place where people want to live, then we have to make these changes.We'll never get there if we don't.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.24

    I have to believe that if more administrators and teachers and parents will speak up, if they will patiently and firmly contradict the Governor's and certain legislators' false, responsibility-dodging statements, our Legislature will realize it has the political backing to act to solve this problem.

    Maybe (I'm reaching for optimism) the road bill is a trial balloon. If legislators can muster the votes to pass new taxes to do an important project like infrastructure, and if they see that they can then win re-election over the protests of whatever astroturf Grover Norquist and Americans for Progress will throw at them in 2016 for raising taxes, they will feel the courage to take firm spending action to fix the teacher shortage.

    But that means waiting at least two more years to see if our legislators grow spines. Grrrr!

  8. I wonder if anyone has asked the governor straight out what he would take as proof of a teacher shortage? I am pretty sure if he were forced to name a measuring stick, superintendents in the state could do the measuring and clearly show they are coming up short.

    Have this conversation in public and it might make a change more likely.

  9. jerry 2015.01.24

    How much does the superintendent have for the outlay of health insurance as well as the HR staff to administer it? If he did not have that to consider, he could raise the wages on his staff by 30% at least. No one denies the fat that we need Medicare for all, so why not get the thing done?

  10. jerry 2015.01.24

    I was speaking of myself when I said "denies the fat", I meant fact.

  11. CLCJM 2015.01.24

    Hey, jerry, love the self deprecating humor! Made me LOL!

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.24

    Jerry, fine point. Medicare for all, getting health insurance off the backs of employers, would free up all sorts of capital for business to do other stuff, raise wages, hire more people, you name it. School districts should not have to dabble in health insurance. Neither should HVAC contractors, accountants, or other businesses.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.24

    ...and don't deny the fat; embrace it, and pass me some ice cream! :-)

  14. mike from iowa 2015.01.24

    Medicare seems to be the plan that many doctors won't accept because of lower reimbursement rates than Medicaid.

  15. jerry 2015.01.24

    Now you know the greed involved with the system mike from iowa. Senator Warren is taking a run at big pharma as they are screwing us as well. Docs and hospitals together with big pharma, force the price gouges to the insurance companies who are forced to pay their charges under contact agreements. We will see what happens if the SCOTUS lowers the boom on Obamacare, not likely as there are two many pigs at the trough. The first industry that would fall would be the insurance industry, it would not make it for 6 months. Maybe the best thing for America would be for them to knock the whole thing in the head. 10 million pissed off voters along with several thousand unemployed insurance people and one short senator, could do wonders. After that, docs would be begging for any kind of revenue stream or they could trade for chickens and goats.

  16. jerry 2015.01.25

    A big item that schools need is net neutrality for them to keep up with the advances we are seeing each day. Students as well as educators need to be informed with affordable high speed information. It is bad enough to not be paid enough for your efforts, but to not have the means to advance, is outrageous. Alas, John Thune seems to think that citizens of South Dakota, in particular rural citizens, should not have that for its citizens nor its schools and certainly not to have it affordable. So here is our boy, padding his wallet.

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