Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



In view of the wide disparities in school financing in South Dakota, the need for change in the present system is becoming increasingly apparent. Given that most school systems rely heavily on the local property tax for their revenue, the common element of most proposed changes is to lessen such reliance. To do so, it is believed will eliminate the close ties between a school district's wealth and the quality of education it is able to finance. Such reform would likely make for a more equitable educational system in South Dakota. For indeed there exist considerable variations in school district wealth within the state. However, it may be that other factors are also important in explaining differences in current. expenditures per student between school districts within the state. Possibilities would include differences in the school tax levies and/or differences in the amounts of state and federal aid received. Consider, for example, a situation where two school districts have comparable assessed property valuations hut one's tax levy is far above the others. Assuming that in all other respects the two are equal, the former district would be able to finance a much higher expenditure per student than the latter. Indeed, the same would be true if one of the districts received more in state and federal aid then the other. Hence there is a necessity for more information about the extent and nature of the existing inequalities in educational opportunities between school districts in the state. Such information would be useful in evaluating the effectiveness of changes proposed to alleviate problems in the state's present system of school finance. Subsequent to the need for a school finance study, there is also a need to study the impact of the school property tax in South Dakota. This is especially so in light of the recent controversies within the state legislature over proposed tax reform which would lessen local governments’ dependence on the property tax. The information needed is whether the impact of the school property taxes progressive proportional or regressive. That is, does the percentage paid in taxes rise, remain constant, or fall, respectively, as income increases? Again, such information would be very useful in ascertaining the need for tax reform aid in evaluating the desirability of alternative reforms.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Education -- South Dakota -- Finance



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University