SD Senate: Let schools levy driver’s ed, pre-K feesPIERRE — Public school boards in South Dakota could legally charge fees for providing driver’s education and pre-kindergarten programs under a measure that received final approval Tuesday at the Legislature.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — Public school boards in South Dakota could legally charge fees for providing driver’s education and pre-kindergarten programs under a measure that received final approval Tuesday at the Legislature.
The state Senate voted 25-6 in favor of the legislation, House Bill 1195, which now heads to the governor, who will decide whether he wants it to become law. House members had voted 55-12 in favor of it Feb. 1.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jacqueline Sly, R-Rapid City, was in response to an official opinion from state Attorney General Marty Jackley. He declared last summer that school districts need clear authority from the Legislature to charge for such programs.
There wouldn’t be any effect on sports and other extra-curricular programs governed by the South Dakota High School Activities Association, according to Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg.
The legislation contains an emergency clause so that school districts could start charging the fees as soon as the measure is signed into law. Brown said the intent is to avoid interfering with what school districts had been doing prior to the attorney general’s opinion.
Sen. Jeff Haverly, who has been in the daycare business, said school districts will be able to unfairly compete against the private sector in childcare services because school systems have free space and additional personnel.
“How are we going to know where the separation of these dollars is?” Haverly, R-Rapid City, asked.
But there really won’t be any change from what many school districts already were doing for many years, according to Sen. Tim Begalka, R-Clear Lake.
“Nothing more, nothing less,” he said.
Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves said the school district has charged for driver’s education in the past and will again this summer.
“It wasn’t until a recent attorney general’s opinion that we couldn’t, so we will continue to do so,” Graves said.
He said Jackley’s decision was issued after last summer’s program, so that wasn’t affected, and the $250 fee per student will be charged again this summer if Daugaard signs the bill.
Graves said the district breaks even with the fee.
The Mitchell School District doesn’t offer pre-kindergarten, Graves said. He said the city and private businesses do a fine job of providing that service.
“We don’t see any need to get into that field now,” Graves said.
The Daily Republic’s Tom Lawrence contributed to this report.