Probably the most disappointing bill that has passed the House in my three years in Pierre is HB 1082. This is the bill which at this time would require small school districts to consolidate if they are under 130 students. It also caps the small school factor, meaning it will not increase more than its current level.
Another section of this bill relates to sparsity and changing the distance between schools required in order to receive it. Last year the governor made a deal with sparse school districts that they will receive so much extra money if they are 15 miles away from the next school district (along with other criteria). This bill changes this promise only one year later from 15 miles to 20 miles, and removes 12 schools off the sparsity list.
What is the bright side? Well you have to search for it but the Senate has HB 1082 right now and they stripped the sister bill SB 157 of all the bad language that's causing the uproar in HB 1082. The Senate then made SB 157 a funding bill that increased school funding by 4.3 percent or greater, and the money goes into the formula. Since many of the House Republicans are not in favor of SB 157, there will be some compromise between the two bills. Unfortunately how this works is that when the Senate makes changes to the bill it will then come back to the House and a conference committee will be set up and will contain members chosen by the Speaker of the House. The conference committee will then come back with its recommendations which contains mutually agreed upon new changes and more than likely tie in funding issues. As small schools slowly one by one are whittled off there are going to be less in the future to stand up against the representatives from the larger schools. I cannot say I feel too good about this but somewhere along the line some of the smallest schools outside of District 17 will suffer from the legislators using a "task force study" to make very biased changes to the rural communities and schools.
This bill did not have support last Thursday. Some of those who were originally against the bill changed position for whatever reason. The bill narrowly passed 37-33.
I would like to thank those who have provided comments or information regarding bills. Many times your e-mails provide new insight to an issue that is not otherwise known. Feel free to contact me if any questions arise or if you would like to make any comments. I can be reached through e-mail: Rep.Boomgarden@state.sd.us
Lets not forget all of our American troops and keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they perform their duties and are away from family and friends.