As the November 6th election draws near, several different issues rise to the surface, but one issue that seems to always be front and center is education. This past Monday, October 15th, there was an educational forum held in Dell Rapids with five of the six candidates from District 25 in attendance. Those attending were Tim Rave and Dan Ahlers for the State Senate, and Jon Hansen, Scott Eckland, and Bill Laird for the State House. There were two primary focus questions that each candidate answered that started the forum, and then several other topics that became part of the discussion. The first focus question was “Do you feel the State is sufficiently funding K-12, and if not how do you propose to increase funding?” All five candidates agreed there is not enough funding for education and all agreed ways have to be found to sufficiently fund education, but it is a very challenging task. The 2nd focus question was read to the candidates by moderator Jason Fersdahl. It stated, “Briefly state your position on House Bill 1234. Do you feel the bill will improve education in South Dakota?” The answer was almost split down party lines. Democrats Ahlers and Laird answered no while two of the GOP candidates, Rave and Hansen, said yes, while Eckland says he would like to do additional research. Laird told the audience that he is not in favor of merit pay while Ahlers said poor leadership devalues your voice. Hansen says merit pay will help retain good teachers while Rave says some parts still need work, but the bill is instrumental in helping critical needs. Eckland says it is complicated and therefore will do more research on HB 1234. Big Sioux Media will be having interviews with these and other candidates as November 6th gets closer and closer. But Superintendent Summer Schultz says that it’s about the kids and their future, and the young kids aren’t concerned if a person is democrat or republican. They just want to learn.