BROOKINGS S.D. (AP) -- The Cooperative Extension Service is reorganizing into seven regional centers across South Dakota to offset the loss of $1.2 million in state and federal funding, officials said Tuesday.

The shift will eliminate the current job classification of county extension educator this fall after summer 4-H activities and the State Fair are held, but new part-time 4-H advisors will be hired in many counties.

Each of the regional centers will have extension field specialists in different program areas, according to South Dakota State University, which administers the extension program.

SDSU Dean of Agriculture Barry Dunn said he will now also be director of the extension service to reduce administrative costs.

Dunn said state funding was cut by more than $818,000 for the budget year beginning in July, and the agency also expects a reduction in $325,000 in federal funding.

Dunn said 99 employees were told Tuesday they would be laid off as of Oct. 21, but many of them may get the new jobs being created.

Salaries for the new jobs as extension field specialists will pay more than current positions because people will be expected to have master's degrees, Dunn said.

The regional centers will be in Aberdeen, Faith, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Watertown. Three tribal extension programs in Eagle Butte, Mission and Porcupine also will continue.

Dunn said there will be an emphasis on delivering services through technology rather than in person.

Public meetings will be held around the state this week to explain the changes.

Copyright 2011 The AP.

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