For Immediate Release 23 March 2000
Regents Review 2000 Legislation
New Student Technology Fellowships, Electronic University Consortium among Funding
ABERDEENToday at its regular business meeting on the campus of the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired the Board of Regents reviewed the appropriations and legislation enacted by the 2000 Legislature. "The Regents view the actions of the Legislature and the Governor as supportive of the course we have taken over the past few years," said Regents President Harvey C. Jewett, IV, of Aberdeen. "We received funding for new programs both in higher education and in the special schools. Unexpectedly we received general funds to replace the roof on the DakotaDome. We are especially grateful for that assistance."
One new higher education program to be in place for Fall 2000 will be the Student Technology Fellows. The Legislature has funded the tuition and mandatory fees for 200 South Dakota students to receive fellowships. A student receiving such a fellowship will agree to provide technology support to faculty. The fellowships will be allocated among the universities based on enrollment. "These student fellows will provide service and also receive training, so this will be a learning experience as well," said Regents Executive Director Robert T. Tad Perry. "This is a great opportunity for South Dakota kids. Although the fellowships will be awarded on an annual basis, if a student gets a fellowship for three or four years, he or she will not only receive a terrific tuition break, but also will build quite an impressive resume," Perry added.
"The Governor recommended and the Legislature funded the start-up costs for the Regents electronic university consortium," said Jewett. "The appropriation will allow us to hire a chief operating officer and a computer support specialist to bring the EUC on-line. Our goal is to have this operating by Fall 2000. All of our universities are offering courses on the Internet now. The consortium will enable us to create a single entry point to all courses," added Jewett.
The Legislature also changed special education funding laws. As a result the Department of Education and Cultural Affairs and the local school districts may expend any public special education funds for educational services of children enrolled in either the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired or the School for the Deaf, located in Sioux Falls. "Prior to this legislation state law prohibited both DECA and the school districts from allocating any funds to the education of children in the special schools. Local school districts could pay for the transportation of these children but that was all. Now the special schools can benefit from such programs as Connecting the Schools. This should improve the educational opportunities available to these special students," said Perry.
Other funding was appropriated for the following:
Finally, the Legislature gave approval to the third year of the Regents three-year plan to increase salaries for faculty and non-faculty exempt employees. This plan has been funded by the Regents through a combination of student fee increases and a reduction in full-time equivalent employees. The Legislature has allowed the Regents to retain revenues from the employee reductions and other cuts in funding that would have occurred when enrollments were declining two years ago. These funds have been directed to increasing salaries.
"With the assistance from the Governor and the Legislature, the University of South Dakota will move forward with its plans to replace the roof on the DakotaDome. They recognize that this building is essential to many state activities. The roof has outlived its expected life span and is becoming a hazard. We expect to see the roof replaced by Fall 2001," said Jewett. "Without their help the roof replacement may not have occurred for several more years."
Regent David Gienapp, Madison, said, "For several years the Legislature and the Governor have told us Regents to operate more efficiently, be more resourceful, and serve the people of this State. We have tried to do that. So we think their actions this year signal that they approve of the directions we have taken. They have been supportive of higher education proposals this year."
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