Who ultimately makes teacher-compensation decisions

That’s a phrase, not a query missing the question mark. The local school boards agree to the contracts for teacher compensation with the local bargaining units, but the decision now sits with the 18 legislators who comprise the Joint Committee on Appropriations.

They gather at 1 p.m. CT on Dec. 4 (the agenda is here) to sort through the recommendations from state government’s School Finance Accountability Board. They’ll decide whether to accept the board’s decisions. None of the school districts face the penalty set in law — losing half of the additional state aid each district was supposed to receive under the 2016 act — but thirteen school boards were told to put more money into the compensation packages for the current school year.

No one has tested the state law giving the 18 legislators the authority to decide. But when the Legislature passes a law giving one of its committees the power, the South Dakota Supreme Court probably would defer to the Legislature. Lawmakers also increased the state sales and use tax rate to 4.5 percent, from 4 percent, to generate the money for the additional state aid and to provide local property-tax relief through the school districts’ general education levy.

The appropriations panel is split nine and nine. The House co-chairman is Rep. David Anderson, R-Hudson. The Senate co-chairman is Sen. Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings.

Other House members are Democrat Dan Ahlers of Dell Rapids and Republicans Hugh Bartels of Watertown, Lance Carson of Mitchell, Taffy Howard of Rapid City, Jean Hunhoff of Yankton, Chris Karr of Sioux Falls, John Lake of Gettysburg and Sue Peterson of Sioux Falls.

Other senators are Democrats Reynold Nesiba of Sioux Falls and Billie Sutton of Burke and Republicans Justin Cronin of Gettysburg, Terri Haverly of Rapid City, Jeff Partridge of Rapid City, Deb Peters of Hartford, Jim White of Huron and John Wiik of Big Stone City.

Here is the accountability board’s draft report.