Gov. Dennis Daugaard today signed HB1234, legislation he offered to reward teachers for excellence and attract more talented young people into teaching disciplines in critical areas of education.
The Governor announced his "South Dakota Investing in Teachers" initiative in his Jan. 10 State of the State address.
"This law will invest $15 million a year in great teachers, because great teachers are the key to student achievement," Gov. Daugaard said. "The law is the product of a lengthy discussion in the Legislature, and lots of input from educators and constituents, and I thank everyone involved for making this a strong piece of legislation."
HB1234 includes several components:
The "Top Teacher Rewards Program" allows local school districts to create their own plans to reward teachers based upon student achievement, teacher leadership, or local critical needs. One option schools can use is the original proposal to give $5,000 bonuses to the top 20 percent of teachers. Districts will receive approximately $1,000 per teacher to set up their local plans, and can opt out entirely if they choose. The program begins in the 2014-15 school year.
The "Critical Needs Scholarship Program" will create 100 scholarships a year for teaching-students in their junior and senior years who agree to teach in a critical needs teaching field. Critical needs will be determined based upon a survey of local school districts. The scholarships will equate to full tuition and fees at a state university, and recipients will be required to teach in a critical needs field for five years in South Dakota after graduation. The program begins in the 2013-14 school year.
The "Math and Science Teacher Incentive Program" will reward the state's best math and science teachers -- those who are evaluated as "distinguished" or "proficient" on the state evaluation system -- with an annual bonus of $2,500. This program begins in the 2014-15 school year.
The law removes the state mandate that requires districts to grant continuing contract, or "tenure," to teachers. This takes effect on July 1, 2016, and teachers who receive continuing contracts prior to that date will not lose them. Local districts will still be allowed to extend tenure if they choose, but it will no longer be required by the state.
The law creates a new statewide evaluation system for teachers and principals, as one component of the state's new school accountability system. The state is replacing No Child Left Behind with a state-created system that will create better student assessments and measure schools on a variety of factors.
Several advisory committees are created to allow for more input from educators as these programs are implemented over the next three school years.
Once fully implemented, these proposals will be funded by the state at a level of $15 million a year, on top of regular formula funding for K-12 education.
"I support regular formula funding increases for schools," Gov. Daugaard said. "But I also believe that the state can make additional, targeted investments in new ideas designed to promote student achievement. The state will continue to measure the success of our schools by the results they produce."