Parents and Students React to Education Cuts
As the legislative session is winding down lawmakers are considering ten percent across the board cuts to education in South Dakota. On today's Dakota Digest SDPB's Charles Michael Ray gathered reaction on the planned cuts from parents across the state.
Parent Teacher Associations across the state are expressing concern over projected budget cuts in Pierre. Deb Chilstrom is the Rapid City PTA Council President - which includes 17 schools. Rapid City hasn't yet announced what programs are being cut. But Chilstrom is concerned what could be lost.
"You know maybe we'd be looking at increasing class sizes which I don't necessarily feel is a good idea we'll maybe have to cut our extracurricular activities some of our music and drama departments, bussing could coordinately be an issue," says Chilstrom.
Parents also worry programs in Rapid City that provide extra help to kids in reading and math could end up on the chopping block. Parents and fundraising organizations would be asked to take up the slack. But Chris Frederick with the Canyon Lake Elementary PTA says many parents are in a budget crisis of their own. She has three children enrolled in Rapid City Schools.
"It's going to be harder for families, because families are already working more than they used to and they don't have as much time and resources to try to make up the differences that we will see the deficits that we will start seeing in our schools that we have to make up at home because of this cut it's going to be really hard, it's going to be hard," says Frederick.
PTA's across the state have urged parents to write their lawmakers - a few students are also getting involved.
"One has a pencil and then it has a drawing and then it says school on the bottom. It says Save Our Schools and then on the back it has a picture of a book," says first grader Zack Marso.
Marso attends a Sioux Falls Elementary school. He is among a number of students who took part in a impromptu letter writing campaign organized through Facebook. His mom Melisa Marso helped put the event together. She notes the students will feel the brunt of these cuts.
"And it's just not right it really isn't I mean of all things to cut something that is so important and something that effects the most vulnerable of our population it just doesn't make any sense," says Marso.
Other parents like Anna Madsen also took part in the event. She is the mother of two in the Sioux Falls School District. Madsen agrees that students are the most effected by cuts.
"I think our deep concern as parents certainly the immediate effect it will have on our teachers and therefore on our children. But I think also the long term implications are devastating in terms of the investment, that obviously is education has not just for parents and children but for the state as a whole," says Madsen.
Madsen fears these cuts reflect poorly on South Dakota. She points to often quoted statistics including the fact that South Dakota teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation.
"This simply I think will further sabotage what we claim to be about in South Dakota namely a place to raise families and to allow them to grow in a state that values thinking," says Madsen.
Madsen's first grade daughter Elsa also wrote this letter to Governor Daugaard.
"So what I wrote on mine is I love my school. School, cut hair not schools. Roll calls not rollbacks", says Elsa Madsen
State leaders say the cuts to education are an unfortunate necessity. They cite a critical need to deal with the structural deficit and balance the budget. Some measures have been passed to reduce the impact of the cuts. Meanwhile, many parents are holding out hope that the legislative session is not over yet.
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