It’s a debate that’s been going on for years in South Dakota - how to best fund K-12 education in this state without raising property taxes. Those living on a fixed income argue their property taxes are already too high and most in South Dakota reject the idea of a state income tax.

South Dakota legislators have approved a special study committee to look at the state's system for funding public school districts. The panel will look at the funding formula used to figure out how to reimburse school district for educating children. The panel is also plans to evaluate the revenue sources for education which is mostly made up of South Dakota property taxes and federal dollars.

The panel will meet during the summer and fall to make recommendations to next year's legislative session.

How to fund education fairly has been a topic of discussion for many years, but educator are always optimistic that funding for children will improve.

"We are always thankful when K-12 Education is the topic of discussion. We look forward to reviewing the work of the committee and are hopeful the outcomes will be favorable to meet our needs,” said Sioux Falls Superintendent, Pam Homan.

Superintendent Jim Holbeck of the Harrisburg School District says he believes lawmakers will look at the adequacy and equity of the current formula.

“Anytime we can get the powers that be to talk about school funding it’s worthwhile.
Without the rush of the legislative session and pressures, they will have some time to gather data. They will see that it’s a very complicated formula of which there are 151 different stories and how it affects 151 different schools,” said Superintendent Jim Holbeck.

Sen. Ryan Maher of Isabel, chairman of the LegislativeExecutive Board, says lawmakers have heard year after year that the state does not fund schools adequately. He says the study panel will now seek new ideas on education funding. Representative lance Carson of Mitchell is the Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board.

Wade Pogany of the South Dakota Associated School Boards says he hopes the study looks at new funding sources and not just ways to reallocate existing funding.

Holbeck said if lawmakers truly did want to raise educational spending, they would find a way to fund educational revenue.

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