Accelify Blog

Department of Education Cuts to Affect Technology, Student Aid (SD)

March 30, 2011

In addition to reducing per-student payments to schools by 10 percent next year, the South Dakota Department of Education plans to cut back on technology upgrades and reimbursements for students who take Advanced Placement classes and exams.

Education officials detailed their proposed 2012 budget Wednesday before the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has asked the department to accept a 10 percent budget cut, the same as most state agencies. With K-12 enrollment expected to grow by 1,000 students next year, cutting the per-student allocation from $4,805 to $4,324 would save the state $46.9 million, officials said.

But other internal cuts will add to the financial burden for individual school districts. One of the biggest is $638,000 in expected technology upgrades and repairs to the state’s digital network, which pays for school districts’ Internet access, e-mail and online classes.

Jim Edman of the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications said the cut would leave school districts to repair whatever breaks inside their schools.

"I don’t think there’s anyone in this room that appreciates the situation we’re in (but) that is one area where we thought we could roll the dice," he said.

Among other cuts:

# Stopping reimbursements for online AP classes, which help small school districts that can’t offer those classes in person, as well as reimbursements for students who pass AP exams for college credit. Those payments cost the state about $205,000 a year.

# Ending the $250,000 College Access Grant and a $250,000 match for GEAR UP, both of which encourage underserved students to go to college.

# Ending $100,000 in payments to South Dakota Public Broadcasting for overnight broadcasting.

# Ending a $78,500 contract that provides technology for schools at a discount.

Interim Educ ation Secretary Melody Schopp said they hope to find another funding source for GEAR UP, which introduces students to a college campus during the summer.

"It’s had huge success," she said.

The department’s presentation included a graph of per-student state aid over time. Through extra payments from the state, schools in 2009-2010 received $196 more per student than required by statute. The surplus fell to $140 this year and would become a deficit of $396 per student under Daugaard’s recommended budget.