Education Bill Amended For Critical Need
By Kealey Bultena
A portion of proposed education reform that once was a bonus for math and science teachers…is now a tuition reimbursement program. That’s just one portion of House Bill 1234 in front of the Senate Education committee.
Part of a substantial amendment to the governor’s education bill eliminates big bonuses for all new math and science teachers and replaces that idea with a Critical Needs Scholarship program. Senator Deb Peters of Hartford says the change recognizes different schools have different teacher needs.
"We heard from a lot of folks around the state that math and science isn’t necessarily the only need in the state, and we also were told that the plan was too rich. There was too much money thrown in," Peters says.
Peters says the new program decreases state funding and scales back how many future teachers are eligible. In the critical needs scholarship program, up to one hundred slots are available for juniors and seniors in college. The soon-to-be educators must stay and teach in South Dakota for five years after they graduate; then those last years of college student loans are forgiven. The program starts in the 2013-2014 school year.
The Senate Education committee passed the amendment and approves the new version of HB 1234. Its next step is the Senate floor.