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Noem signs bill raising teacher salaries, boosting literacy

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(The Center Square) – Teachers in South Dakota will see raises and a new minimum salary under a bill Gov. Kristi Noem signed into law Wednesday.

Noem also signed a literacy bill into law, which will appropriate $6 million to the Department of Education to fund professional development in literacy education for teachers.

The teacher salary bill, Senate Bill 127, establishes the new minimum teacher salary at $45,000 and will go up yearly with inflation, according to Rep. Tony Venhuizen, R-Sioux Falls.

It also gives a 4% increase to schools, which Venhuizen said is meant to ensure teachers all see a 4% increase in their salaries.

“We know every research study tells you the number one thing, school factor, for effective education is not facilities, it’s not spending, it’s not class size, it’s having a quality teacher in the classroom. That’s number one. If you want to have quality teachers enter the workforce and stay in the workforce, you have to pay them,” said Venhuizen.

Noem said increasing teacher salaries has been something she’s wanted to accomplish for years.

“Some of these legislators up here really took the time and invested their effort into making sure that this was a policy that was going to make sure that our school districts had the opportunity to really make a difference in the amount of salaries that we are able to pay our teachers. And that they can stay in their communities where they want to be and have the best and the brightest come out of our school districts that will continue to lead this state far into the future and into success,” the governor said.

The minimum salary bump is set to go into effect beginning in fiscal year 2025. School districts must pay each full-time teacher at least the minimum salary by July 2026, according to the bill.

The bill also directs the Department of Education to decrease state aid to school districts by $500 for each full-time teacher it employs if it has not increased its average teacher compensation or raised its minimum teacher salaries to the new state minimum.

House Bill 1022 will increase literacy among students by investing in literacy education training for teachers.

“Across the country, literacy is declining among our kids,” Noem said. “We all know our kids can’t be successful if they don’t know how to read, if they don’t have the ability to go forward and pursue a career or opportunity, if they can’t use those skill sets that they need to be successful doing so.”

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