South Dakota’s Republican candidate for governor made her way through Aberdeen Thursday, taking time to talk about education.
Roughly 75 people attended Kristi Noem’s afternoon gathering in the coffee shop area of Ken’s SuperFair Foods. She called it a parent-teacher conference during which she outlined her education agenda.
Noem said that in her travels across the state, she hears questions about how employers can fill positions for skilled workers and whether there will be jobs in certain areas for South Dakota youth. One solution, she said, is introducing students to those trades earlier.
“We need to put technical schools back in the high schools and middle schools,” she said.
Noem pointed to her son as an example. He attends a consolidated school where, if he wanted to try a robotics class, he would have to travel to Watertown. That takes away from his day at school, and potentially cuts into his time for extra curricular activities.
Following her talk, Noem said she’s heard from smaller schools that are struggling financially. She said she recognizes that they are hurting and feel they were treated unfairly in the most recent changes to the K-12 funding formula that’s based on a student-to-teacher ratio.
“We need to look at those situations and make improvements,” she said.
While she couldn’t say what specific changes could be made to the formula, Noem said she’d like to see more options available to allow districts to save money. They could include:
- Using the state for standardized purchasing of equipment to save on expenses.
- Finding out if school districts could purchase insurance as a group, which would reduce costs.
- Determining if technical courses could be made available as dual-credit classes that offer both high school and college credits. Through the state’s dual-credit program, high school students can take college courses at a reduced rate.
She would also like to see a decrease in the number of students who have to take remedial math or English classes at college.
Noem is the state’s lone member of the U.S. house, but is running for governor instead of seeking re-election. She’s running against Democrat Billie Sutton and Libertarian Kurt Evans. The election is Nov. 6.