For the first time since 1985, South Dakota’s average teacher salaries in the 2016-17 school year were no longer the lowest in the nation.
The news comes from the National Education Association’s 2018 Rankings and Estimates report, an annual report that was released on April 23. According to the report, South Dakota’s average teacher salaries increased from $42,025 in 2015-16 to $46,979 in 2016-17 – an increase of $4,954 or 11.8 percent. South Dakota’s average salary rose from 51st in the nation to 48th.
The increases came as a result of the 2016 State Legislature’s passage of the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. Both as a dollar amount and as a percentage, South Dakota’s increase in salaries was the highest in the nation by far – the second largest increase as a dollar amount was New York at $2,750, and the second largest by percentage was North Carolina at 4.2 percent.
According to the NEA, South Dakota’s average teacher salary had ranked 51st in the nation in every annual report issued from 1986 to 2017.
“The primary goal of the Blue Ribbon Task Force was to make South Dakota’s teacher salaries competitive with other states, considering salaries and cost of living, and we are accomplishing that,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “We also sent an important message to our teachers – that we value the work they do, that three decades in last place was enough and that we were willing to step up to improve their salaries.”
South Dakota teacher salaries rank even higher when adjusted for cost of living and taxes. According to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the state ranks 29th when the NEA state averages are adjusted to reflect state and local tax burden and regional price parity data, which is calculated by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis.