Entries Tagged 'School Funding' ↓

Sioux Falls School Board to canvas election at Monday’s meeting

Here is the agenda – minus the documentation.

This is the time to come and speak about how the election was handled and publicly challenge the election results. I hope to show up with data supporting my argument that an 85% approval rating for a $300 million dollar school bond is historically impossible.

UPDATE: Why is a Zeal Center board member trashing councilors on FB?

As you may or may not know, the Zeal Center is part of the USD Discovery Center (that recently got funding from the city council for infrastructure) and share many of the same leaders, like Rich Naser.

UPDATE: I am being told Zeal is a joint venture between the Chamber and the Development Foundation and the USD Discovery District is a USD project. Rich Naser works on both of them, but Zeal receives no DIRECT city funding but the Development Foundation DOES.

One of the board members of Zeal, Matthew Paulson, decided to trash city councilor Stehly on FB recently (she supported the funding).

While Matt certainly has a 1st Amendment Right to say what he wants about an elected official, NOT sure it shows a lot of professionalism when your organization just got a big chunk of money from the city’s taxpayers in which Stehly approved of. Remember, the city council holds the purse strings (not so much under the last mayor). Maybe the next time The Discovery Center or Zeal come asking for funding they won’t be getting much support from city council.

UPDATE: 85% Passage of School Bond ‘Highly Questionable’

I will agree that the school bond would pass. There really wasn’t much opposition and with only the Argus and this blog giving voters ALL of the factual information. I don’t have an issue with the turnout (numbers) of 16,000 either. I figured it would be around that.

UPDATE: There is now a rumor going around that the SFSD is telling the media that Minnehaha County (auditor’s office) cancelled a contract with the SFSD to handle any of their elections. A county official told me tonight that NEVER came in front of the County Commission to review and I know that Litz said he was willing to run the school bond election if the SFSD asked him to. So who cancelled this supposed contract? Well, that would seem to be the SFSD. Also, as I understand it these ‘contracts’ are for EACH election when the election presents itself. In other words even if there was a contract, a NEW contract for the school bond issue could have been written up with the County Auditor’s office. I also know that Theresa Stehly had a one-on-one meeting asking, if not begging, the Superintendent to run this election through the Auditor’s office using all the precincts, absentee voting at the county admin building and machine tabulation and record keeping. It fell on deaf ears. So the bigger question is why would the SFSD now be starting this ‘rumor’? Are they trying to hide something? In my research there are no state laws barring the SFSD from handling their own election or using district employees to tabulate. It just doesn’t look good, at all.

But besides the stuff Bruce pointed out in his press release yesterday, I caught an interesting video on KELOLAND’s Facebook page of Brady Mallory. He was showing how volunteers were hand tabulating the votes. That seemed like a normal process except for all the SFSD administrators hovering over them (which some people complained about). But where it got even more suspicious was when Brady pointed to the TWO people who were entering the numbers into the computer (screenshot below – video coming soon) without independent oversight from volunteers watching to see if they are entering the numbers correctly.

A couple of foxes tabulating the Hen election

So who are these two? The Operations Manager for the SFSD, Jeff Kreiter and the Program Director for the SFSD, Doug Morrison. I’m certainly not accusing them of tampering with the vote, BUT, there certainly wasn’t anyone watching them to make sure they were doing it right. I spoke with Mallory this morning and he told me that he thought they were just entering the numbers for the website. So who was entering the numbers in the system?

Also, Bev Chase said on one of the TV stations last night that the ‘ballots will be destroyed after the election.’ while she is allowed to do that, she has to hold on them for 2 years before she does that in case there needs to be a review of the results.

This election should have been handled independently by the County Auditor or even City Clerk and tabulated by machine. At the very least it should have been monitored by Bob Litz or the SOS. There was NO independent review or watchful eyes.

Unfortunately in the past when we have had questions or complaints about elections we are told to ‘hire an attorney’. The SOS refuses to look into as well as the AG and the State’s attorney who has often used as an excuse “I have too many murder cases to worry about.” Even County Auditor Bob Litz has given up. The ACLU has also not bothered to look into it even though we warned them before the election that this was not on the up and up. I guess they are more concerned about bathrooms and abortion than they are about fair and balanced elections.

So why as a taxpayer should I have to hire a private attorney to investigate a government entity that I fund and an election that I fund? F’ing ludicrous.

Did the Bond Election follow proper election protocol?

PRESS RELEASE from Citizens for Integrity

As a clean and open election advocate for 52 years I have made some observations concerning the September 18, 2018 Sioux Falls School Bond election. These observations are my opinions based on being part of the process from the 1960’s into the age of computer based elections. The insight I have gained into the deeper workings of modern elections was dealt with when I was Chairman of the Minnehaha County Election Review Committee in 2015.

In these years of observing and partaking in elections in South Dakota, I have seen some interesting election practices but I have never witnessed this elections poor practices. We must fight every day to keep elections fair to all participants, so we as citizens can accept the final outcomes as the voter’s choice.

This election may be the worst organized election I have witnessed in my life.

I have personally witnessed during absentee voting process:

1.       No South Dakota Secretary of State Office direct support or oversight of election process

2.       An unknown vendor support for computer based poll books

3.       No audit trail capability to verify the number of ballots issued and who voted absentee at IPC

4.       Single clerk voter check-in of voters

5.       No printed poll book at IPC absentee voting or any voting location to verify voter check-in

6.       Voter check-in process with no hard copy verification by secondary individual

7.       Voter check-in on a computer with the voter not able to verify data entered

8.       Poll workers admitted no previous experience working an election

9.       Voter check-in required voters to fill in absentee envelops with little guidance from inexperienced clerk

10.   No label printers used in previous elections to guarantee legibility for absentee voting audits

11.   Questionable ballot marking instructions

12.   The election polling locations are disproportionally located in the southern part of the Sioux Falls school district leaving citizens north of 6thstreet with no convenient polling place

13.   The Minnehaha County Election Review Committee recommendations for consistency in voting locations was ignored for election day

I am an advocate of hand counting and / or verifying ballot results when our election choices are controlled by machines. This election will be forever tainted no matter what the results are.

Bruce Danielson

Citizens for Integrity

PO Box 491

Sioux Falls, SD 57101

FAX: (605) 334-9511

Cell: (605) 376-8087

Email: bruce@citizens4integrity.org

VOTE ‘NO’ on School Bond Robo-Call

I guess this Robo-Call went out this afternoon. I guess better late than never.

A task force member also posted a video on FB today telling people to vote NO because of the bait and switch by the SFSD. I know exactly what she is talking about. In meeting #3 they told the Task Force they would have options to present in meeting #4 and when they got there those options were OFF the table and only one remained for $190 million.

Please remember the Sioux Falls School District already has two property tax opt outs.

Posted by Mary Scheel-Buysse on Monday, September 17, 2018

Golf Tournament highlights the gap between rich and poor in Sioux Falls

While only about .05% percent of Sioux Falls residents give a rat’s ass about the Sanford International Golf Tournament, it hasn’t stopped our news media from covering it for days, including the mini-city built on the Minnehaha Country Club greens that took several weeks.

Instead talking about the massive tax increases we are facing with the new jail, new schools, new water treatment plant, lack of food tax relief in the legislature’s special session, and another property tax increase on Tuesday at the City Council meeting, our local media wants to focus on the important things; Golf.

While healthcare costs continue to sky rocket, food banks grow faster than crab grass, soup kitchens continue to expand, and treatment for addiction isn’t available in our community, one of top employers and healthcare providers decided that hosting a pro-golf tournament on an exclusive country club course was a good idea.

Will there be economic impact? Oh, probably. Will Sanford and the MCC make money from the event? Maybe.

But the golf tournament highlights something more than anything else, the gap between rich and poor in Sioux Falls.

The irony only gets thicker when you realize the tournament is being played on land that should be sold to the city for a better east-west route for commuters.

While our news media stands in line like they are at the Banquet for Sanford advertising dollars, the rest of our society is slipping through the cracks. But, hey, we are not a real news story unless we steal a pizza buffet gift card.

Bond election to use SCHOOLS as Precincts

Nothing controversial about that, schools have been traditionally used as precincts in multiple elections, not only in the Sioux Falls and Minnehaha county but across the nation.

The school bond election will use several schools and community centers attached to schools as precincts in Tuesday’s election.

So why point this out?

Because for the last couple of years the SFSD has refused to allow the County Auditor to use schools as precincts due to ‘safety’ concerns of the children.

So I guess ‘safety’ isn’t an issue when voters are approving a $300 million dollar tax increase. Just more irony and hypocrisy from the SFSD surrounding this election.

New High School to be named after Ronald Reagan?

Of course we have to wait and see if the bond issue passes on Tuesday, but a group of local businessmen may already be planning to propose it be named after the Gipper.

Of course, many have been proposing Jefferson, but in reality it can be named after any president.

Last week I overheard a group ‘upper crust’ businessmen enjoying a cocktail at Minerva’s bar discussing the push to name it after Reagan.

“Makes sense doesn’t it?” One of them says, “What could be more fitting? I mean, Reagan stuck it to the middle and lower middle class during his presidency that has had lasting economic impact over the past 38 years widening the gap between rich and poor.”

“Not sure I understand?” says one of his friends

He replies, “Well the bond itself will burden those same people for up to 30 years. And who can forget sticking it to the elderly on fixed incomes?”

A third guy chimes in, “Sounds verrrryyyy Reagan-ness to me. Here’s a cheer to Ronald Regan High School!”

*While this is a parody, don’t be surprised if someone actually proposes it.

$300 Million Dollar School Bond will likely pass

I figured I would get a head of this before Tuesday. The writing is on the wall, the bond issue will likely pass with at least 62% of the vote.

There are a lot of factors, such as a special election in the middle of September, which will assure a low voter turnout with only those wanting this showing up to the polls. There is also the possibility of the E-Poll books and hand tabulation going awry, but even if it does, that won’t change many votes.

Yesterday the Chamber and other businesses endorsed the bond. One of them was Sanford. The Sanford endorsement made me chuckle considering the fact that Sanford got a $9 million dollar TIF for the sports complex (essentially money that will be rebated back to them instead of funding education). I guess it’s easy to endorse a $300 million dollar property tax increase when you don’t have to pay towards it.

One of the latest arguments from the Chamber Hob Knobbers is economic development and growth. “People won’t want to move here if we don’t have good schools.” Why is growth for growth sake a worthy cause? And with half the kids in the District on Free or Reduced lunches it is pretty obvious we are not exactly a high-wage community. I would think what a job pays would be more of concern to moving to Sioux Falls than good schools.

I have said a real economic impact on our city would be giving out FREE birth control instead of FREE lunches. You don’t have to educate or feed a kid that is never born.

So what is the real reason I think this will pass?

There is NO real organized opposition to this. While I am disappointed that the State’s Attorney, Secretary of State or Attorney General isn’t investigating possible violations of campaign rules or the shady ‘IN-HOUSE’ election, there isn’t much I can do to stop this steam roller. The ACLU was even asked to investigate the ‘super precincts’ to see if that was even Federally legal. No avail.

Sioux Falls is just going to get a little more expensive to live after Tuesday. With a $48 million dollar jail, $260 million dollar waste treatment plant and $300 million in schools, I have to think of the famous words of the Seattle band Mudhoney, time for leaving is now;

UPDATE: School District doesn’t want to release information that will show open enrollment has caused segregation

UPDATE: On September 4, the SFSD did a ‘partial’ presentation ABOVE on demographics. When it was asked if Super Maher has further numbers about open enrollment affects, he claimed that they have never put those numbers together, but could discuss doing it in the future. How convenient.

Shocker! A little over a month before a $300 million dollar bond vote and the School District doesn’t want to tell us their dirty little secret;

The Argus Leader submitted an open records request to the Sioux Falls School District for a demographic and socioeconomic breakdown of students by campus for the last 20 years — since the last bond election — to see how those numbers might have changed over time.

But the district said it will cost more than $1,200 to release the public information, stored in an electronic database. The Argus Leader had not pursued the request further as of Thursday.

I find it hard to believe it would cost $1,200 to email a data base. If that is the case, the school district needs to immediately fire their IT director for incredible incompetence.

I have said all along the School District needs to end open enrollment, redistrict and draw new boundaries BEFORE building new schools.

I have been told by several parents that they open enroll their kids in other schools besides the ones in their districts because they don’t want their kids going to ‘certain schools’ with ‘certain students’. While I would hope they are not talking about race, I do know they don’t want their kids going to the ‘poor schools.’

The Argus needs to shell out the $1,200 and demand the information before the vote, and they need to do it NOW before they have a chance to ‘fudge’ the numbers, because that is what they really mean by the $1,200 price tag.

This bond vote will go down in history as an incredible travesty, and I just hope at least 41% of the voters have the brains to see through this sham.