Proposed teacher distance learning bonus fails


PIERRE (CNS) – A House Committee killed a bill Feb. 6 to increase pay for teachers that use distance-learning technology.

Rep. Cooper Garnos, R-Presho, introduced the bill.

A teacher would have received $1,500 a semester for teaching a distance learning class under House Bill 1219. The Department of Education and Cultural Affairs (DECA) would have paid one-third of the cost for the reward with the school district picking up two-thirds.

DECA’s Melody Schopp said the bill contradicted current state policy prohibiting category-specific aid. The plan is also not part of Gov. Mike Rounds’ funding plan to give $15.1 million more to schools in the coming year.

The program could result in school districts paying for classes no one signed up for, Rep. Joel Dykstra, R-Canton, said.

“I think we risk constructing some kind of labyrinth or house of cards we can’t find our way around anymore,” he said.

Others thought the bill infringed on school districts’ local control.

“I appreciated his concern, but I really don’t think this is our domain here,” Rep. Maurice LaRue, R-Sturgis, said.

The committee voted 9-4 to defer the bill to the 41st legislative day. That effectively kills the bill because the current legislative session is 40 days long.

Gamos said that 47 distance-learning classes are scheduled for K-12 education this spring and that 54 were taught in the fall of 2002.