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Thread summary:

South Dakota lowest in United States in teacher’s salaries, good teachers moving away from South Dakota, children our greatest resource, pay increases for teachers

 
Old 12-13-2007, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
18,696 posts, read 39,776,543 times
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I was just listening to the news and South Dakota, has once again, fallen to the position of being the state with the lowest pay for teachers.

What is our problem? Our children are out greatest natural resource that there is. You're's, mine, the neighbors child may be the next governor. And we educated him/her with the lowest bidder. I realize I don't live there now, but I grew up there, and some of my kids live in South Dakota and so do some of my grandkids.

I, like everybody, hate to see taxes go up. But maybe if we look at how it's being spent, we can cut something so we can give these educators a little more money. They deserve it.

I did a project in South Carolina and they had billboards saying "Hey, we were only 49th in test scores. At least we weren't on the bottom." It was embarrassing to say the least.

The news comes out and calls South Dakota, last on the list for pay. What are we going to do when the teachers realize that and move away?
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:42 PM
 
Location: So. Dak.
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That's a good point, but I don't know the answer either. All I know is that with nearly everything~we're at the bottom or near the bottom for wages. We do have a much more reasonable cost of living then a lot of places do so that helps a bit. Yet, we still have to pay the same for many things such as food, clothing, gas, etc.

On the flip side, we do have a lot of good teachers who chose to stay here for the quality of life that is here. Whenever there is an opening in our school district, they have ample applications so that is a positive sign. But you know I live in one of the larger towns in our state and the starting wages for educators is a bit above what they'll pay in the smaller districts. You just have to wonder how much of a choice those smaller districts have for educators. Wish there was a way to fix the low wages that everyone in our state suffers from.

A couple of years ago I had sat down and figured out the actual wage an educator is compensated for and figured the number of hours worked per year. I took into consideration the healthcare, 403B contributions, dental care, life insurance, etc. that is paid by our school districts. I was quite surprised at the final number. They actually fared quite well. Take into consideration that many of them are able to take summer jobs for about 14 weeks per year.
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Old 12-16-2007, 05:32 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
733 posts, read 4,498,561 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammie View Post
On the flip side, we do have a lot of good teachers who chose to stay here for the quality of life that is here. Whenever there is an opening in our school district, they have ample applications so that is a positive sign. But you know I live in one of the larger towns in our state and the starting wages for educators is a bit above what they'll pay in the smaller districts. You just have to wonder how much of a choice those smaller districts have for educators. Wish there was a way to fix the low wages that everyone in our state suffers from.

A couple of years ago I had sat down and figured out the actual wage an educator is compensated for and figured the number of hours worked per year. I took into consideration the healthcare, 403B contributions, dental care, life insurance, etc. that is paid by our school districts. I was quite surprised at the final number. They actually fared quite well. Take into consideration that many of them are able to take summer jobs for about 14 weeks per year.
I'm married to a teacher and I'm a self-employed professional, I have employees and meet a payroll every week, and I own commercial/residential property. So I feel I can make a few comments.

Our wage scale is lower than most other places. Starting with the first Janklow administration South Dakota started marketing itself as a cheap place to do business. True. No income tax, personal or corporate; lower worker's compensation rates; generous property tax concessions for new industry; essentially no organized labor; open shops; "right to work;" etc. Unspoken in that promotion was the offer of a cheap, desperate labor force. We continue today to pay the price for the "Taiwanization" of SD 25 years ago.

It is incumbent upon employers - like me - to pay fair, realistic wages to our employees. The calculus should not be what we can get by paying, but paying what similarly situated employees in the national economy are earning, adjusted for the lower cost of living in SD. Yes, that will be a bit lower than elsewhere, but not at the bottom of barrel. That's how I pay my employees - and I take home less than my direct competitors. But I have a stable, loyal workforce. They're happy, we all work together, and they are not at the bottom of the scale. More employers need to realize that treating people right is the right thing to do!

We need to develop local industry - not continually subsidize out-of-state owned enterprises that come here to take advantage of the aforementioned freebies. The profits leave SD, the highly paid executives pass through now and then but live elsewhere, and they reap - and remove - the profits created by underpaid labor and take them off to other locales.

I've never belonged to a union in my life. That said, organized labor has to get off its dead backside and get busy. On the national scale labor unions have become toothless tigers. In SD they hardly ever existed. Those of you who are members of labor unions need to rise up and demand that your leaders spread labors' message and take back American jobs for American workers.

As Jammie notes, improving everyone's lot will improve individual situations. All boats float higher on a rising tide. Let's look to value-added agriculture and help home grown industry so we can all pay each other more.

Education is funded by property taxes. There are staggering increases in property value. Where is the commensurate increase in property taxes? Nowhere. We adopted an artificial limit on tax levies and it is simply impossible to increase tax revenues without a specified "opt out." That's a temporary fix for a discrete problem. And it gets voted on every time. We elect our representatives, county commissioners, city councilmen, and school board members to make wise decisions. Let them do that with their budgets. If they screw it up, fire them at the next election. Don't put artificial barriers in their way...

Everybody wants more money, better schools, good law enforcement, excellent roads, good water, etc. etc. etc. But nobody wants to pay for it. There is not such thing as a free lunch. Until we're ready to pay, we're going to remain at the bottom. Pure and simple. Or until we change our taxation system and school funding formulae. Good luck getting that through the legislature, eh? What do we hear every year? We need this, we need that, we need something else...but no new taxes, no way, no how.

We can't have it both ways, can we? Some time we've got to pay the piper.

Finally, after a nice rant and ramble, let's look at teachers specifically.

Hours worked. My spouse goes in at 7:15 every morning and seldom is home before 5:30 at night. You're expected to be at concerts, activities, games, etc. You're required to be at a number of them. It ain't no 9-5 deal folks. It takes dedicated, hard working professionals.

Fringe benefits. Like everyone else, an educator's share of insurance premiums continues to go up. Benefits continue to decline. 403Bs are, in our district anyway, no longer funded by the district. It comes right out of the individual employee's payroll. SD Retirement is a very good benefit. You won't hear any complaints about that! But most other fringes have disappeared.

What summer jobs? Between inservice, recertification, advanced graduate classes to provide better pedagogy for your children, work days, and other professional teaching activities the summer is hardly "off time" for educators.

Thanks for letting me vent!

Last edited by windtimber; 12-16-2007 at 05:38 PM.. Reason: A couple obvious typos!
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Old 12-16-2007, 07:37 PM
 
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
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Windtimber. Excellent post!

I have to agree with Jammie, I think the only thing keeping teachers in South Dakota is the quality of life. Most of my teachers in school were married to doctors, lawyers, etc. so pay wasn't a HUGE issue. But for the teachers who actually need that money to survive, South Dakota has a big problem. I wonder if allowing an income tax would be such a horrible thing for our state. Maybe we rely on outside sources (sales tax, food tax, tourist spending) too much and we really need to wake ourselves up.

Thoughts???
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Old 12-16-2007, 08:18 PM
 
Location: So. Dak.
13,495 posts, read 35,905,882 times
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I agree~Windtimber has an excellent post. Too bad all the employers in the state aren't like him. There are many good employers who are fair, but then there are those who pay minimum wage and have no concern for their employees.

Well, I have several friends who are teachers or instructors. Many of them are actually single/divorced gals so they aren't fortunate enough to have someone to rely on. They subsidize their incomes by working places during the Christmas season and they're actually pretty happy right now because they'll be off for two weeks and will be able to work extra hours at their part time jobs. They also work during the summertime and it generally doesn't interfere with school related things. Of course, they do have three days of inservice just before school starts so they need to arrange that into their work schedules. None of them are really able to work many hours~maybe 10 hrs a week, but every little bit helps. As far as insurance taking a bigger peice out of their checks~right now we've been fortunate with the district we're in because the insurance premiums have actually dropped a few dollars. For single coverage the employee's share of the premium is $43 per month. When you start talking about family coverage, it's very different and that's because the total premium itself is astronomical. I suppose that's pretty much the case for everyone. In defense of my friends, I've got to say that they are excellent teachers. They could double the salaries and hire new ones and they won't find anyone who is more ethical or dedicated then they are. They love teaching and they were well aware they wouldn't become wealthy doing it. They're just very dedicated people by nature and always seem happy even though they could possibly make more $$ in other professions. I don't believe a one of them would want to switch careers and they've been doing this for years. I'm early 50s and they're all right in that same area and some a few years older.

Danny, I'm just not sure what the solution is. I guess I'd go back to the gambling that we had been discussing a few days ago. I believe that we are getting one third off our housing taxes because of gambling. I also remember that education was supposed to get more funding if gambling could become legal here. I honestly don't know if that has happened. Maybe someone in the legislature would tell us if some of that money is being used for education. The districts are now allowed well over 5,000 per student and many of them have built up reserves. I understand that now there are limits put on those reserves and one of the reasons is that the purpose of extra funding was to increase salaries and not stash it away. But I'm not educated on how much reserves are necessary to maintain all the programs. I do know that our own district does have the opt-out, but our Superintendent and Business Manager have it budgeted that none of that money will be needed this year. They have always used just a small portion of it. Wish I had the answers, but maybe someone else has thoughts on what can be done about this problem. It'd be nice if every employee in our state could have their levels raised just a bit.
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Old 12-16-2007, 09:45 PM
 
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
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That is strange how we are "supposedly" getting so much off of housing taxes due to gambling. In Rapid City, property taxes are crazy. Kinda makes ya wonder...

When I was in Minnesota, I noticed that there was no sales nor food tax. I wonder if income taxes are high.
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Old 12-18-2007, 02:39 PM
 
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Having lived in both MN and SD the tax issue is a huge one. Property taxes in Sioux Falls were at least double what they are in the Twin Cities when we lived in Sioux Falls in the mid 1990's so I am sure they are more then that now. Insurance and car registration was less in South Dakota as were grocery prices, especially milk. Overall MN rakes about 10th in the nation for overall tax burden, incorporating all levels of taxation, sales, property, income, etc. South Dakota ranks 45th according to a ranking in Money Magazine. Interestingly enough the lower taxed states also are the lower ranking states in quality of education as are the higher taxed states the higher ranked states in education.

It was immediately noticeable to us that things in Sioux Falls were not up to par with what we had grown accustomed to in MN. The schools were not as good, the programs were not as readily available, etc. I think that South Dakota needs to take a serious look at these discrepancies as it is falling further and further behind it's neighboring states
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:50 PM
 
Location: So. Dak.
13,495 posts, read 35,905,882 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannyBanany View Post
That is strange how we are "supposedly" getting so much off of housing taxes due to gambling. In Rapid City, property taxes are crazy. Kinda makes ya wonder...

When I was in Minnesota, I noticed that there was no sales nor food tax. I wonder if income taxes are high.
Yes, we have a very high tax percentage in our state. My county is between 21 and 22 per 1,000 of evaluation. The only thing that sets that off for us is the fact that we don't have a state income tax.

I do remember that years ago when we lived in the smaller town we came from, our taxes were 1200 per year. (The house was only a few years old so in hindsight, that was an excellent deal. THEN after lottery passed, our taxes went down to 900 for a year. I don't know the formula but thought that the assessment values may just be lowered by 33% rather then the tax base itself.

Oh, I definitely believe that we need to pay our teachers more. But one of the problems with that is~if wages in the private sector doesn't go up, it'll just put such a huge burden on the taxpayer. We'll have the same wage, yet have to pay out much more in taxes. Also, we have to keep in mind that the educators who would be receiving the raise will also have to pay a higher property tax or whatever tax is used for that increase in salary. And I honestly don't believe that just because a teacher is paid well that it makes them a better educator. IMHO one of the only ways that teacher's salaries can be raised is if there's an across the board wage hike in our state for everyone. There's just such a fine balance between paying our public employees more and not taxing others to death.
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