Superintendents of South Dakota:
I look forward to the 2016-17 school year and the
honor of serving as your SDSSA President.
I have been blessed to work in education for 41
years and the last 20 as a superintendent.
During that time I gained greatly from the advice
and leadership of former and current superintendents.
This is a profession that almost requires that we
network and learn from our peers.
SDSSA and AASA are tremendous professional
organizations and I thank those of you that are members
and certainly encourage those that are not to consider
SASD and SDSSA as well as other educational groups have
worked hard over the last several years to draw attention
to teacher shortages and the increasing pay disparity
between SD and its neighboring states.
That hard work has paid off with the Legislature
and the Governor passing historic legislation to increase
K-12 funding by over $ 60 million dollars.
It was a hard fought battle and it involved a
number of amendments and compromises that had some
negative impacts, but overall it allowed many SD districts
to provide our dedicated teachers with some of the largest
pay increases in the history of our state.
I personally had doubts until the day the Governor
signed the bill that I would ever see SD address the
problem of low teacher compensation.
I commend those that served on the Blue Ribbon Task
Force and Governor Daugaard for their leadership.
We are in the first year of the new state aid
formula and our work is not done.
We need to continue to assess whether the new
formula will allow SD to continue to close the
compensation gap with our neighboring states.
This is difficult because those states may have
more financial resources than SD.
Where we do compete is in the quality and
dedication of our teachers and the character and ability
of our SD students.
We cannot afford to slip back after this large step
cannot afford to lose our teachers or our young people to
We are dependent upon an investment in quality
education that will provide the leaders of tomorrow to
move SD forward.
As administrators we continue to face new issues
and challenges on a daily basis.
Our role is to work collaboratively with the
federal government, state agencies, and our local
communities always with the intent of doing what is in the
best interest of our students.
This can mean advocating for maintaining or
expanding funding for special programs such as our federal
Title programs, proposed changes in our school lunch
programs, and implementing the changes in the new Every
Student Succeeds Act.
On the Civil Rights front, we may wrestle with how
to best balance the rights of transgender students with
the issues of privacy for all students.
These are significant challenges.
At the state level we are just beginning to review
and assess the data from our first year of using the
Smarter Balance Assessment.
Educators across SD will be examining that data to
identify areas of student strength and those that need
The SD Dept. of Ed. is working to assist schools as they
make the transition from the former DSTEP assessment to a
significantly different test.
These are big challenges, but our teachers and
administrators are up to the task and will provide
feedback to the SD Dept. of Ed. on areas of concern in
working with the new assessment.
This is a significant challenge.
At the local level, I am often overwhelmed at the
amount of support that we get from our communities and the
businesses within our communities.
My experience has been if you can demonstrate a
legitimate need for young people, your communities will
work hard to find a way to meet it.
I believe this is true of every school district in
There are good things happening in SD at every
schools are often an integral part of those changes and we
have a tremendous responsibility as leaders within our
I wish you the very best as you face those
challenges this year and remind you that you are not
alone. If you
reach out to a fellow superintendent or to the SDSSA, help
is never far away.
Mr. Lynn Vlasman