It’s very early in the implementation of the recommendations set by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, but early returns are encouraging.

According to Rob Monson from the School Administrators of South Dakota, there is evidence of improvement especially in the number of openings compared to August of a year ago.

“We took a big step this year, one in acknowledging the problem and coming up with a plan to start attacking it. There are still some areas that there are some shortages. I think there were about 200 less (unfilled positions) this year as we were approaching school than there was last year. Still we have a problem, but it’s a good sign that we were shorter.”

Overall, Monson points to higher morale for returning teachers in South Dakota for financial grounds and reasons that are more psychological.

“I did hear this from a couple of different superintendents that said, ‘I had teachers that came to me after the (tax hike) passed that were thinking about moving to another state, but stayed (in South Dakota) for two reasons. One being the financial side of it and more importantly they finally felt valued by the people from Pierre.’”

School districts will soon file official reports so Monson is waiting to determine exactly how the half-penny sales tax increase has affected teacher salaries.

After a three-year period Monson says the South Dakota Legislature can evaluate the course of action and make adjustments based on teacher salary trends.

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