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Public education in South Dakota

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K-12 Education in South Dakota
State Superintendent: Melody Schopp
Number of students: 128,016[1]
Number of teachers: 9,247
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:13.8
Number of school districts: 171
Number of schools: 704
Graduation rate: 83%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $8,805[3]
See also
Public education in South Dakota
South Dakota Department of Education
South Dakota school districts
List of school districts in South Dakota
South Dakota
The South Dakota public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents. South Dakota has approximately 185 public school districts.

The South Dakota state constitution requires that the state legislature establish and maintain "a general and uniform system of public schools wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all."[4]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: South Dakota state budget
South Dakota's education costs are 33% of the state budget

The FY 2010 total recommended state budget is $3,670,641,608. The general fund totals $1,236,148,954 of that, education accounts for $407.5 million or 33.0% of the budget.[5] According to the South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management, education accounted for approximately 50% of the total budget in the 2008 fiscal year. Education appropriations include aid to K-12 education, funding for higher education and post secondary institutes.[6]

The cost per pupil is $8,367, ranking 42nd in the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[7]

Personnel salaries

According to the American Federation of Teachers, in the 2006-07 school year the average South Dakota teacher salary was $35,378, a 2% increase from 2005-06. Delaware ranked 47th in beginning teacher salaries - $26,988.[8]

School year Average annual teacher salary Average beginning teacher salary
2006-07 $35,378[8] $26,988[8]
2005-06 $34,670[8] n/a
2004-05 $34,039[9] $26,111[9]
2003-04 $33,222[9] $25,197[9]

Role of unions

The main union related to the South Dakota school system is the South Dakota Education Association (SDEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). SDEA is the largest education association in the state.[10] For the 2003 tax period SDEA had: $2.31 million in total revenue, $2.10 million in total expenses and $655,432 in total assets.[11]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education consists of nine members, all of which are appointed by the governor. According to the Department of Education, the board's role is to "take a prominent role advocating a dynamic quality education for each student in South Dakota."[12] The Secretary of Education serves as the executive officer of the board.[13]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: South Dakota government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Associated School Boards of South Dakota.

Transparency provides a database of state financial information, organized by broad topics such as budget, expenditures, revenues, vendor contracts, and payroll. Much of the information is updated twice per week. And, since data populating the database is tied directly to South Dakota's accounting system, payroll information is updated in real-time (that is, as soon as information enters the general accounting system software, it will appear on this database).[14]

Academic performance

The chart below details the number of schools that made and did not make the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for school years 2002 through 2009. AYP is used by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program to determine the academic performance of schools. In the 2008-2009 school year a total of 75% of students scored at a proficient or higher level in mathematics - 59% were proficient and 17% were advanced. In reading a total of 75% of students scored at a proficient or higher level - 51% were proficient and 24% were advanced.[15]

School year Mathematics (%) Reading (%)
2007-2008 76% 84%
2008-2009 75% 75%

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[16] 2011 Education Spending[17] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[18] 2012 Education Spending[19] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[20] 2011 Avg. ACT score[21] 2012 Avg. ACT score[22] 2010 Graduation Rate[23] 2011 Graduation Rate[24]
South Dakota $6.7 billion $2.0 billion 29.8% $6.8 billion $2.0 billion 29.4% 21.8 21.8 21.8 82.5% 84.4%

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: the state of South Dakota does not have a charter school law.[25]
  • Public school open enrollment: the state of South Dakota has two open enrollment policies: inter-district and intra-district. In other words, students are permitted to enroll in any school within their neighborhood school district or in any alternative district in the state.[26][25]
  • Online learning: the South Dakota Virtual School offers courses to both middle and high school students in the state. In order to enroll in courses, students must register at their home school district. All of the courses offered via the virtual school are approved by the South Dakota Department of Education.[27]

External links


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. State of South Dakota Constitution,"Article 8, Section 1," retrieved December 1, 2009
  5. State of South Dakota,"FY 2010 Budget Summary Book," retrieved December 2, 2009
  6. South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management,"General Fund Expenditures," retrieved December 2, 2009
  7. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 American Federation of Teachers,"South Dakota Teacher Salaries '07," retrieved December 2, 2009
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 American Federation of Teachers,"South Dakota has Nation's Lowest Teacher Salaries," March 29, 2007
  10. Center for Union Facts,"South Dakota," retrieved December 1, 2009
  11. Center for Union Facts,"South Dakota Education Association," retrieved December 1, 2009
  12. South Dakota Department of Education,"Board of Education," retrieved December 1, 2009
  13. South Dakota Department of Education,"South Dakota Board of Education Policy," November 15, 2004
  14. "Gov. Rounds Announces Government Records Website," Office of the Governor Press Release, September 12, 2008
  15. South Dakota Department of Education,"No Child Left Behind 2009 Report Card," retrieved December 2, 2009
  16. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  17. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  18. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  19. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  20. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  21. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  22. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  23. National Center for Education Statistics
  24. National Center for Education Statistics
  25. 25.0 25.1 The Heritage Foundation,"School Choice in South Dakota," retrieved December 2, 2009
  26. Education Commission of the States,"Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," retrieved December 2, 2009
  27. South Dakota Virtual School,"About," retrieved December 2, 2009