Rural schools plan to increase teacher numbers flunks test

The hardest test of a bill: where does the money come from to implement it if passed?

A bill that would have provided tuition repayment to encourage para-professionals in rural schools to become teachers died March 3 in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

HB 1092 had already received a passing grade from the House, but was stopped by those who hold the purse strings.

However, several of the Senators held out hope that the summer interim study on school funding, the so-called Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students, could address this topic.

In fact, Sen. Jim White, R-Huron, suggested looking at present programs to aid small schools and “tie on to it.” He noted “I don’t see it justifying a separate program.”

Rep. Tom Holmes, R-Sioux Falls, a retired school teacher, said his bill would encompass all subjects, not a select few, and would only be available to para-professionals who already work in the school system. Tuition would be reimbursed for students graduating from the program and staying in South Dakota for five years.

What’s important, Holmes said, is to “get teachers into the classroom,” adding that the bill was aimed at K-12 school populations of 600 or less, of which there are at least 48 in the state. The para-professionals would be those already working in such a school system.


Opposition to the bill came from the state’s Bureau of Finance and Management, as well as the Board of Regents, citing availability of other funding for such students.