An educator works with students at Cleveland Elementary School. (Courtesy of Sioux Falls School District)

SD teachers make less than they did in 2017, when factoring in inflation

BY: - November 30, 2023

The average South Dakota teacher salary has increased by just over $6,000 in the last six years, according to a recent state Department of Education report. That’s enough to meet requirements set forth by the 2016 Legislature, which aimed to increase teacher salaries to competitive rates by increasing the state’s sales tax by half a […]

An electric vehicle charging station. (Getty Images)

Ahead of climate conference, U.S. House panel tussles over curbs on emissions

BY: - November 29, 2023

Republicans on a U.S. House panel argued Wednesday against aggressive moves to meet carbon reduction goals, saying U.S. fossil fuel companies are working to make their products cleaner. Democrats on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment, Manufacturing and Critical Minerals countered that to achieve further reductions, federal policies should be continued […]

A sign identifies a polling place during a city and school election on June 6, 2023, in Rapid City. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Open primaries: Advocating for fair and competitive elections

BY: - November 29, 2023

South Dakota has a closed primary election system which discourages competition, encourages hyper partisanship and excludes hundreds of thousands of voters from a meaningful role in our elections. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Luckily, there is an alternative election system available for voters to consider next November. South Dakotans who show up […]

Lincoln County residents and members of the county's newly formed Carbon Dioxide Transport and Storage Advisory Committee attend a meeting Nov. 28, 2023, in Canton. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Lincoln could become sixth county to regulate location of carbon pipelines

BY: - November 28, 2023

CANTON — Lincoln County could become the sixth county in the state to enact regulations on the location of carbon dioxide pipelines.  Brown, McPherson, Minnehaha, Moody and Spink counties already have “setback” ordinances that mandate minimum distances between pipelines and residential areas, livestock facilities, nursing homes and other existing features. The Lincoln County Commission rejected […]

"I voted" stickers, as seen on the front of a new brochure from Secretary of State Monae Johnson. (SD Secretary of State)

Secretary of state releases election integrity brochure, urges voters to trust officials

BY: - November 28, 2023

A new brochure from Secretary of State Monae Johnson aims to address common election integrity questions in advance of the 2024 election, according to a Tuesday news release. The brochure, titled “A Guide to Secure Elections in South Dakota,” is designed to explain “different security measures South Dakota has put in place to protect our […]

A no-till field at Dakota Lakes Research Farm in Hughes County. (Colette Kessler, USDA NRCS South Dakota)

Climate change makes farm bill conservation programs crucial

BY: - November 28, 2023

While people from around the country think of South Dakota as the home of Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park and the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, we are at our core a state powered and defined by our farms and ranches. Agriculture is the South Dakota’s top producing industry, generating almost $12 billion for the economy […]

A sign in Mitchell advertising workforce housing for delivery. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

100 more, and still short: State money helps Mitchell build houses for workers

BY: - November 26, 2023

About a tenth of the 450 employees at Trail King in Mitchell drive 100 miles a day to get there and back from Huron. The pay is worth the drive, according to Trail King’s Lee Anderson, but that doesn’t mean they like it. Most would happily move to Mitchell, he said – at least they […]

Teacher homes on the Oglala Reservation. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Landlords for teachers: Housing projects aim to keep pace with reservation school expansion

BY: - November 26, 2023

One of the newest, most modern tech high schools in South Dakota is in one of the poorest counties in the United States. Lakota Tech High School, the only public high school in Oglala Lakota County, didn’t exist until a few years ago. It owes its existence to a $50 million flurry of activity that […]

Clint Soulek, Chamberlain city administrator, points out areas in city limits where development has been slow to emerge. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Housing infrastructure funding helps Chamberlain over the hill

BY: - November 26, 2023

Chamberlain’s greatest asset is the Missouri River, whose choppy, sea green waves paint picturesque scenes within walking distance of downtown and a fair share of its established homes.  Chamberlain’s also landlocked, to an extent. The ground best suited for building was built upon decades ago, forming a teardrop-shaped thicket of urban activity along the river’s […]

Big Sioux River floodwaters flow over farm fields, sending sediment downstream toward Lake Kampeska and beyond on April 13, 2023. (Brad Johnson/For South Dakota Searchlight)

State’s $3 million Big Sioux cleanup project is slow to catch on

BY: - November 24, 2023

A $3 million program created by the state in 2021 to reduce agricultural pollution in the Big Sioux River has attracted two sign-ups, while drawing criticism for duplicating existing local projects. Meanwhile, the state has doubled the financial incentives for landowners in an effort to attract more interest. Rep. Chris Karr, R-Sioux Falls, introduced the […]

The Senate floor in the South Dakota Capitol at Pierre. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Governor shouldn’t be the one to choose replacement legislators

BY: - November 24, 2023

Two Republican legislators from Rapid City have resigned. Sen. Jessica Castleberry of District 35 had to resign so she can get busy repaying $600,000 in pandemic relief funding she received through state government, in violation of the Legislature’s ethics rules. Rep. Jess Olson of District 34 said she resigned for health reasons. According to The […]

The busts of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln tower over the Black Hills at Mount Rushmore National Memorial on July 2, 2020, near Keystone. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Park Service tightens restrictions on air tours at Rushmore, Badlands

BY: - November 22, 2023

The National Park Service has adopted new restrictions on commercial air tours at Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Badlands National Park. The tours will have to stay at least a half-mile from each site’s boundaries. The Rushmore plan will “provide a peaceful setting for visitors to enjoy and experience,” Mount Rushmore Superintendent Michelle Wheatley said […]