Letters Dismay with budget
To the editor:
As a parent of two young children and as president of the Vermillion Parent Teacher Association, I feel I must write to express my dismay with Gov. Rounds' new budget and proposed funding for public education.
Although Rounds claims to add a 2.9 percent increase to the state's K-12 funding formula, at the same time he is stopping a program that provides an additional payment to school districts throughout the state. The actual increase works out to 1.1 percent, far below what school districts need to keep up with staff salaries, rising health insurance premiums, and other costs associated with educating our children. Our state representatives, Sen. B.J. Nesselhuf, Rep. Donna Schafer, and Rep. Jamie Boomgarden, attended Monday night's Vermillion School Board meeting and I applaud our school board members for giving them an earful on the shortcomings of Rounds' proposal.
Due to inadequate funding, school districts throughout the state are experiencing budget shortfalls and cutting staff and programs, and Vermillion is no different. I am a member of a group called Citizens in Support of Our Schools that is gathering public support for an opt-out of the property tax freeze to provide our district with the funds needed to keep our school district and our community strong and vibrant.
The governor's budget proposal makes an opt-out even more crucial. We are still collecting pledges of support for an opt-out. Watch for us, and our little yellow pledge cards, at upcoming community events.
The opt-out, which will increase property taxes by $800,000 annually over the next five years, provides only temporary help for our district. We must make sure that our state representatives know that a strong public education system is critical to the economic success of Vermillion and South Dakota and that shortchanging K-12 education at the state level sends the wrong message.
I urge everyone to contact Gov. Rounds and our state representatives and tell them that our schools and our children deserve better than a funding increase that, in essence, works out to less than the rate of inflation. A state that doesn't support its education system is a state that will lose out in the end.
Vermillion PTA president and member of Citizens in Support of Our Schools