Home > 2013 SD Legislative Session, Education > South Dakota Senate Bill 96 – School district low enrollment restructuring requirement changes

South Dakota Senate Bill 96 – School district low enrollment restructuring requirement changes

January 28, 2013

busToday as a part of National School Choice Week I published a post advocating some benefits of open enrollment. To complement my prior post I thought it relevant to look at a bill before the South Dakota Senate regarding open enrollment. SD Senate Bill 96 is labeled: “An Act to exempt certain school districts from the requirement to reorganize due to low enrollment.”

Basically SB96 will amend South Dakota Statute § 13-6-97. Here is the text of SB96:

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to exempt certain school districts from the requirement to reorganize due to low enrollment.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

Section 1. That § 13-6-97 be amended to read as follows:

13-6-97. Any school district that has a fall enrollment, as defined in § 13-13-10.1, of less than one hundred and is not a sparse school district, as defined in § 13-13-78, shall reorganize with another school district or school districts to create a newly reorganized school district with a fall enrollment of one hundred or greater. Any school district that is not sparse and has a fall enrollment of one hundred or less on July 1, 2007, shall prepare a plan for reorganization by June 30, 2009. After July 1, 2007, if the fall enrollment of any school district that is not sparse falls to one hundred or below, that school district shall prepare a plan for reorganization within two years. If any such district fails to prepare a plan for reorganization by the deadline, the Board of Education shall prepare a reorganization plan for the district. However, the provisions of this section do not apply to any school district that receives no foundation program state aid distributed pursuant to chapter 13-13, and that is located at least twenty-five miles from the nearest high school in an adjoining school district in the state. The provisions of this section also do not apply to any school district that is a part of a consortium of school districts exercising joint powers pursuant to chapter 1-24 or intergovernmental cooperation in education pursuant to chapter 13-15 for the purposes stated in § 13-8-1.

This bill appears to do two things:

  1. It removes outdated language that no longer applies.
  2. I adds another exception. School districts that have banded together with other school districts as a “consortium” are exempt from reorganization due to low enrollment numbers.

That seems straight-forward enough. Yet I wonder if a school district becomes that small shouldn’t alternatives be considered. Would it make more financial sense that a school district that has such low enrollment actually be combined with a different school district? Is a consortium being used to protect school districts from having to reorganize? If this bill is being passed to “protect small school districts” instead of finding the right solution I am opposed to it.

Even though I have many questions I am still undecided about this bill. However I do wonder if this is the right solution to a problem; or is it a way for school districts to sidestep  unwanted (but possibly necessary) restructuring. I will look forward to hearing any debate they have in Pierre about this bill.

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  1. January 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm
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