Pierre School District Superintendent Kelly Glodt, left, speaks with District Business Manager Darla Mayer in Glodt's office on Monday.

The 97th South Dakota Legislature will meet for the first time on Tuesday and Gov. Kristi Noem’s December budget request for a 6-percent increase in state aid to education has local school administrators hopeful for the future.

Pierre School District Superintendent Kelly Glodt said his district is involved with three different lobbying groups — School Administrators of South Dakota, the Associated School Boards of South Dakota and the South Dakota Large School Group.

“We’re really, really lucky to have the three legislators that we do,” Glodt said. “They are very supportive of public education and very understanding and if there’s an issue that they ever have questions about or maybe aren’t as knowledgeable about, they are really good about calling (District Business Manager) Darla (Mayer) or I or coming to meet with us to say, ‘What would this bill do to the Pierre School District?’”

Glodt said Noem’s proposed 6 percent increase in state aid to education is the main goal for school districts in the coming session.

“We are absolutely hopeful that that does happen and that at the end of the session, we end up with that 6-percent increase so that we can make plans moving forward,” Glodt said. “We always kind of hold off on our teacher negotiations and those things until we know exactly what it is we’re going to get from the Legislature.”

Stanley County School District Superintendent Dan Baldwin echoed Glodt, saying his district “certainly” hopes the 6-percent increase holds as the legislative session proceeds.

“Not quite up to inflation, but it’s a great start,” Baldwin said. “It’s one of the biggest state aid percentages we’ve seen proposed and we’re happy about that, and hopefully it’ll go through.”

Glodt added that what his district is able to do is “100 percent dependent” on what the Legislature does for his district.

“State aid is the largest share of our largest fund’s revenue source,” Mayer said. “So about 80 percent of our funding for the General Fund comes through the state aid formula. So the Legislature every year determines what that amount will be that we will receive in the Pierre School District and in every public school district across the state. So that 6-percent increase is really key to what we’re able to do. If that holds, that will allow us to pass that on to our staff.”

Baldwin said his district is working toward building its budget to stay transparent and build a five-year capital outlay plan so stakeholders will know their intentions for the future.

Though cannabis has taken center stage in many of the bills filed as of Monday, education and school buildings will come up frequently in the legislative chambers, as well.

House Bill 1012, brought by the state Committee on Education at the request of Noem’s office, aims to “protect students from critical race theory” by forbidding schools under the state Board of Regents, state Board of Technical Education or a state-accredited district to “direct or otherwise compel a student to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to” three different tenets, those being:

“That any race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior”

“That individuals should be adversely treated or feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin”

“That individuals, by virtue of race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.”

Glodt said he hasn’t looked specifically at House Bill 1012 as of Monday morning, and noted that bills often change as the legislative session progresses.

“Critical race theory has been a big buzzword and a big concern for people maybe all over the country, but I think much of that is unfounded to a point, because, you know, we have a system in place at the state where no matter what subject it is — social studies, science, math — there’s curriculum review at the state level,” Glodt said. “They set the standards of what it is that they’d like to see us teach, and it’s still determined by local school districts what materials you use.”

Glodt said he has “very little concern” about critical race theory being taught in Pierre or in South Dakota in general as he believes is feared by many.

“I just don’t think that our teachers teach in that way,” Glodt said. “I don’t believe it’s as big a deal as it is nationwide. I don’t think it’s happening in our schools. We’re going to teach history, we’re going to teach government similar to the way we’ve done it for years and years. I don’t know that it’ll change anything.”

House Bill 1005, primarily sponsored by state Rep. Fred Deutsch, R-Dist. 4, would put in state law that a student has cause for action against their public school district if they encounter “a member of the opposite sex in a multi-occupancy shower room, changing room, or rest room, which... (i)s in a public school building; and... (h)as been designated for exclusive use by members of the student’s sex.” The draft bill defines “sex” as “a person’s immutable, biological sex, as determined by the person’s genetics and anatomy existing at the time of the person’s birth.”

“Some school districts have made specific policies to their bathroom use and that, and I think some of this may be a reaction to that,” Glodt said.

Glodt said he believes his district is in a “really good place” as far as its current policy, in which students use the bathroom provided for their sex but gender-neutral bathrooms are also available.

Michael Woodel | 605-224-7301 ext. 131

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