Johnston v. Alberty on school legislation

This should be fun. Sioux Falls School Board President Kent Alberty is challenging Mark Johnston for state senate in District 12.

Johnston, who took Sandy Jerstad’s seat in 2010 and chaired the Senate Education committee this year, generally has been a friend of the public schools. He shows up to school district events when invited, clearly has an interest in education initiatives and has supported legislation sending more money to schools.

But that’s not to say the school district and school board have agreed with his every move.

Johnston was one of the six Republicans who brought major amendments on HB1234, the controversial teacher tenure and bonus pay bill, which the school board opposed.

The last of Johnston’s amendments postponed the tenure change from 2012 to 2016. Still, Johnston ultimately voted for the bill, which Alberty railed against.

Here’s a look at how the two match up on some other 2012 bills:

Johnston sponsored and the school district supported:

HB1226, which would have permanently increased the index factor in the per-student formula

SB124: The state ended up getting a bigger windfall than expected from the 8.6 percent funding cut in FY12; the bill would have given that extra money to schools.

Johnston sponsored and the district opposed:

SB139 provided Teach for America a state match to help them expand to more Indian reservation schools (The board wanted any education money to go to all schools through the formula)

SB186: Public schools are required to loan textbooks to home-schooled and private school students. The bill expanded the definition to include other instruction materials that are not books.

Johnston prime-sponsored and the district took no position:

SB98, would have created math and science academies for high school seniors at the University Centers in Sioux Falls and Rapid City (The board said they already offer six AP courses in math and science, as well as related CTE Academy courses)

Yes KELO, there is a Legislature


KELO reported quite falsely this morning that education and Medicaid suffered the same cuts last year as the rest of the state budget.

Educators Hopeful for Measure 15 

By Austin Hoffman
Published: December 5, 2011, 6:56 AM

It was one of the most heated topics to come out of the last legislative session: A ten percent, across the board cut in state funding. Education and Medicaid didn’t get any special treatment.

Although that was Gov. Daugaard’s initial proposal, the Legislature ultimately found many millions for K-12 schools and Medicaid.

The per-student formula was reduced by 8.6 percent, not 10 percent. And after one-time money, the actual per-student cut for public schools was only 6.6 percent for FY12.

The more interesting story in KELO’s one-source report with “local administrators” [sic] seems to be how Tea Area Schools are raising money:

Laboranti says Tea has been great in supporting the school system, but they cannot continue to rely on the pubic to fundraise.

It all comes back to the school funding lawsuit

On Sept. 31, 2008, Wade Pogany took the stand as the final witness for the state of South Dakota in the court trial over whether public schools are adequately funded.

That lawsuit, which the state won, was supported by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota. Pogany, who at the time worked for the Department of Education, is going to work for ASBSD next month as executive director.

So that’s kind of interesting.

That funding lawsuit, by the way, remains under review by the South Dakota Supreme Court. The losing plaintiffs appealed the ruling by Lori Wilbur, who is changing jobs herself. In a couple hours, Wilbur takes the oath of office to join the Supreme Court.
So that’s also kind of interesting.

As a justice, of course, Wilbur will have no say in the appeal of her school funding decision.

Here’s how Terry Woster – now working for the state, a somewhat less interesting story – reported Pogany’s testimony when Woster worked for the Argus Leader:

The state’s final witness Tuesday, Deputy Education Secretary Wade Pogany, described the computer systems and supporting technology that have been provided to schools in the past several years at state expense. He also outlined distance-learning programs and online courses available, often for free to a school.

He also described a teacher compensation plan the Legislature approved two years ago.

Pogany testified that as much as $20 million in state money goes to schools outside the education-funding formula that is the subject of the lawsuit. That money pays for things that benefit the schools, he said.

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