SD board request more state money for universitiesPIERRE (AP) — The South Dakota Board of Regents agreed Thursday to seek additional state funding aimed at holding down tuition and fee increases for students at the six state-run universities.
By: Chet Brokaw, The Associated Press
PIERRE (AP) — The South Dakota Board of Regents agreed Thursday to seek additional state funding aimed at holding down tuition and fee increases for students at the six state-run universities.
The regents unanimously approved a budget request that seeks a $14.5 million total increase in state funding for operating the state universities in the year beginning July 1, 2013. The governor and the Legislature will have the final say on the budget. The regents will set tuition for the 2014 school year next spring after the Legislature approves a new state budget.
The board is requesting about $2.8 million in additional state money to cover inflation in operating costs and a 1 percent faculty salary increase aimed at making South Dakota salaries competitive with those paid at public universities in nearby states. Another $3.2 million would be divided among the universities based on each school's success in graduating more students, retaining more students between their freshman and sophomore years and increasing research activities.
An extra $2.3 million in state funding is being sought to maintain campus buildings and other facilities.
Those requests will help hold down tuition and fee increases that otherwise might be used for the programs, regents said.
"Our goal is to stem the tide of the cost shifting to students as a result of declining state support," Regents President Kathryn Johnson said.
In its budget request to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, the regents also asked the governor to make salary increases for all state workers the highest priority when he submits his budget to the Legislature. The 1 percent faculty salary increase in the board's budget request would be in addition to the pay raise all state employees receive.
Other priorities identified by the board include more scholarship aid for students and increased support for agricultural research.
Regent Harvey Jewett said he believes an increase in money for maintenance and repair is needed to keep campus buildings in good shape. The quality of dormitories, science labs and other buildings plays a big role in recruiting students to the universities, he said.
The regents are seeking $2 million in state money to create a doctoral program in physics at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and the University of South Dakota. South Dakota is one of only two states that have no doctoral degrees in physics, but the program is needed to support the underground science lab at the former Homestake mine in the Black Hills, they said.
"We think the time has come now, particularly with the lab being in an advanced state," Regents Executive Director Jack Warner said.
The budget request also seeks $2.6 million to expand the education of doctors and physician assistants at the University of South Dakota Medical School. The number of entering medical school students would be increased by 11 a year over four years, and the number of physician assistant students would be increased by five a year over three years.
In addition, the regents want nearly $447,000 for teacher education programs at five universities to help produce more teachers for high schools on American Indian reservations.