The Yankton School District’s (YSD) 2021 grade for teacher compensation is in, and it’s a good one.
At Monday’s meeting of the Yankton School Board, YSD Superintendent Wayne Kindle presented the results of Yankton’s Annual Teacher Compensation Accountability Report from the South Dakota Department of Education (DOE).
According to the report, YSD’s average teacher salary for fiscal Year 2021 was $53,108. With benefits, YSD’s total teacher average compensation was reported at $72,687.
The 2021 state average in South Dakota for teacher salaries is $49,577, and for total compensation, it’s $64,271, Kindle said.
Ranked against several other school districts, Yankton came in at No. 2 for highest teacher pay, second to Brandon Valley by about $480.
Other school districts in the report ranked from highest to lowest salaries included Huron, Mitchell, Aberdeen, Watertown, Brookings, Harrisburg and Pierre.
The report also showed that Yankton met the state accountability requirement with no issues, he said.
“I’d like to congratulate our school board and our community for doing a really great job with keeping our salary and benefits competitive for our teachers,” Kindle said.
According to a report released last month by the South Dakota Teacher Compensation Review Board, target baseline teacher salaries statewide for 2020-2021 are $51,367.47.
The National Education Association (NEA) estimates that the average teacher salary across South Dakota, at just under $50,000, is still comparatively very low and ranks it as the second lowest in the nation, with Mississippi having the lowest.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the school board recognized Sandi Kramer, director of YSD’s Child Nutrition Services, who is retiring after 38 years with the school district.
“I want to highlight three or four things she’s done, and the list is much longer than that,” Kindle said. “Twenty years ago, she started the school breakfast program here in Yankton; 15 years ago, she started the Summer Meal Program; and she also launched the Angel Fund.”
Many residents and local businesses donate to the Angel Fund, which helps struggling families pay for their child’s meals at school, he said.
In 2016, Kramer was awarded the Pam Kettering Spirit of Volunteerism Award for her work with the Sack Pack Program.
Though the school board accepted her resignation unanimously, it did so “with regret.”
Also Monday, an architect from the Koch-Hazard architectural firm gave an update on the progress on the elementary school facilities study it is conducting for YSD. Koch-Hazard was selected earlier this year over three other architectural firms to conduct the facilities study and to propose updates and improvements to the school district, with special attention to early childhood education.
The representative from Koch-Hazard said he expects the final study results to be presented to the school board at its February meeting.
Monday, the board also approved an amendment to the YSD Substitute Teacher Policy that provided for incentives to attract substitute teachers, as well as bus drivers, for the school district. It raised the hourly pay for those positions and added financial incentives to work for the school district.
“This year and last year, it’s been a bit challenging finding substitutes and bus drivers across the district when we need to,” Kindle told the school board, noting that the problem is not only local but regional and national as well. “The incentive portion approved in the consent agenda says that, after you have subbed for 10 days in the district, you would be compensated an additional $150. Also, for our bus drivers, there’s a pay incentive in there above and beyond compensation.”
In order to keep the students in school, the district must have access to substitute teachers, he said, adding that there were a few weeks that the district was short of substitutes.
“In some cases, we’ve been 4-5 substitute teachers short throughout the district,” Kindle said. “In some cases, we’ve had buildings that needed 2-4 subs, and we couldn’t get anybody, so we moved people around.”
Administrators are hopeful that the new compensation and incentive plan will help alleviate those types of staff shortages, he said.
Also Monday, the school board approved a one-year agreement with River City Gymnastics and Cheer to use its new space in the Yankton Mall for team practices and competitive events.
The new facility is the 36,000-square-foot area on the northwest end of the mall that formerly house JC Penney, Justin Olson, head trainer for River City Gymnastics and Cheer and the Yankton High School (YHS) gymnastics coach, told the school board.
“We currently have the junior varsity, the varsity and the middle school gymnastics program in the gymnastics room, which is approximately 5,000 square feet,” he said. “Having six times the space alleviates congestion, it’s safe for the kids and provides an opportunity to get on more equipment, equipment that is also easier on their bodies so they can train at a higher level.”
Home meets would be held at River City Gymnastics and Cheer‘s new facility at the mall, which the group is currently leasing month to month with the possibility of purchasing the property, according to Olson.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• Beadle Elementary School Principal Carey Mitzel updated the school board on the progress of the city’s “Paint the Plow” project as well as selection of fourth- and fifth-grade class officers;
• Assistant YHS principal Zach Campbell also updated the board on class-officer election results for juniors and seniors and on homecoming activities;
• Kindle announced that the Yankton School Board has received the gold ALL Award, the Associate School Board of South Dakota’s highest recognition.