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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at

Sutton to Introduce Tuition Reimbursement Legislation for Rural Teachers

Democrat State Senator Billie Sutton plans to introduce legislation to attract more teachers to rural schools. 

The measure Senator Sutton plans to introduce would reimburse tuition for new teachers who choose to work in rural school districts. A similar plan is currently offered to new lawyers, dentists and doctors. Sutton says the proposal is one way to combat the growing teacher shortage in the state.

"There are over 1,000 teachers eligible to retire right now. There are only 726 in state students who will enter the teaching profession in 2015. But how many of those will stay in South Dakota? There’s no guarantee that even half will stay in South Dakota," says Sutton.

Sutton and his fellow democrats say low teacher pay is also a contributing factor to the shortage of educators and that lawmakers need to make education a priority.

Republicans say teacher pay is a priority and always has been for lawmakers. Deb Peters is Senator from Hartford.  She says worker shortages are not unique to the education sector.

"We need to look at all workforce sectors," says Peters, "We are seeing a baby boom population retire. My parents are retiring. They were the workhorses in this country for so long and it’s not just education it’s everywhere."

Peters says she would like schools to utilize technology to help address teacher shortages across the state.