Entries Tagged 'SF School District' ↓

Legislating Policy and Open Government make things a lot easier

One of my biggest arguments for open government is that if you apply it consistently it not only saves taxpayers money, but it prevents a lot of headaches and butt hurt. So the SFSD has spent $181K on a consultant, kept the findings secret and wonder why teachers and parents are upset?

“It’s like we’re shown a product, we give feedback, and then they go behind a curtain and do stuff,” Tony Martinet, president of the Sioux Falls Education Association said. “You don’t get to see the mess. …If from the start, they would have simply said, ‘We are cutting minutes to music, P.E. and art because we’re trying to equalize across the board,’ and just owned it from the start, then I mean, the frustration and the arguments would have not have been there.”

First off, I have never been a fan of consultants in the public sector. They usually charge to much to tell you what you want to hear. The administration usually has an expectation and if you pay someone for that expectation, guess what, you get it.

But what is even more frustrating is the lack of leadership by our School Board;

Martinet and others also urged the Sioux Falls school board multiple times to consider weighing in, but administrators have continuously said the board would not make a decision because the process is an administrative function.

While I partially agree that the School Board, as a part-time elected body doesn’t get involved with sitting in curriculum meetings, they do have the ultimate authority to tell the administration they can or cannot move forward with something without their blessing, that’s kind of their job. And when parents and teachers are telling the school board they feel the process is screwed up, the School Board needs to sit their employee (Super Maher) down and explain to him that they are the legislative body that determines how money is spent and what programs move forward. Simply telling them it is not their ‘function’ is unacceptable. When governing the school district, whether that is budgets, new schools, elections or tax op-outs, that is their job, and thye best do it. We elect them to represent us, the people and parents who fund the district. Public Schools are NOT some fascist regime that can do whatever they want to.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls School Board continues to be more worthless by the day

UPDATE: If you watch the above video you will hear Mr. Vik talk about the district’s low levees while waiting later to say that the district valuation is very high ($11 Billion) but said that is because they have a lot of students. I can tell you that our valuations are very high. I had some friends build a brand new home in Brookings a couple of years ago. They told me that if they would have built the same home in Sioux Falls it would have cost them $100K more. Also, I can tell my mom’s home in a small SD town would probably be worth 3x more if it were in Sioux Falls. Vik can boast all he wants about our ‘low’ levees but our valuations are thru the roof.

Don’t we elect these people to effectively monitor the administration when it comes to policy and budgeting? The citizens of Sioux Falls are tired of the continued tax hikes that get closer and closer together each year.

The Sioux Falls School District’s fund balance is at its lowest point in 25 years, and it can’t be relied on as a savings account to balance the budget in the future.

That’s one of several reasons the school board is eyeing a long-term opt-out financial strategy for possibly the next 10 years, school officials said during a school board work session Wednesday afternoon.

In the past year we have seen another water increase (and more to come) multiple opt-outs from Minnehaha County, the city increased property taxes, the school district suckered us into a $300 million dollar bond to build schools they have no money to staff. We all knew this was coming. Instead of constantly raising our taxes how about some cutting and I am not talking about student’s education. I think it is time the SFSD laid off administrative staff we don’t need and no raises for them until they equal out with teacher pay, you know, 49th not 26th. It’s so easy to spend other people’s money and who is protecting the taxpayers? Certainly not our school board who do virtually nothing except slobber on themselves during the meetings.

UPDATE: Why doesn’t the Sioux Falls School Board set policy?

UPDATE: Funny how the SFSD backtracks after they get busted. Me has a feeling some very angry board members probably made a few calls last night telling the administration to release the information. Now if we could just take a gander at the bond election ballots.

We heard it during the Dem Forum debate from incumbent board member Reiter when it came to elections, as a school board they don’t set policy on elections.

We hear it again in this article when it comes to cuts in arts curriculum;

The school board heard an informational report about the schedules earlier this year, and members had a chance to weigh in on the report at that time.

And the chances of school board member taking action on the issue are zero, district spokesperson Carly Uthe said Tuesday. That’s because the issue of creating new elementary schedules is an administrative function and not one of the elected governing body.

But isn’t the School Board supposed to be checking what the administration is doing? They cannot simply act alone when it comes to budgeting. They can offer solutions or suggestions, but the power of the purse is within the prevue of the board NOT the administration.

And from Facebook;

As an elected board, like the city council, isn’t it the job of the School Board to set or at the very least APPROVE polices like cuts to curriculum or setting up precincts in an election? What’s the point of having a school board as a check against the administration if they aren’t checking? Our democratic policies in Sioux Falls are going straight to Hell in a Hand Basket. The whole point of having ‘elected’ officials is to check the administrators work and step in when things are not going in the direction the public wants. You are representatives of US not of THEM.

Sioux Falls School Board Elect Baker has serious conflicts

Of course I pointed this out when she was co-chair of the New School Bond Task Force and people told me she had nothing to do with it. Well if you read her conflict form, it tells a different story (DOC: Baker-Conflict)

Bob Baker (Husband), First National Bank of SF, Employee, Shareholder, Director & officer

SFSD deposits and new school bonds.

As I mentioned during the task force meetings the bonds would have to go through First National and I wonder what kind of commission was gleamed on a $190 million dollar bond. But hey, no conflicts there. I also wondered what kind of contracts the school has with SDN, the employer of the Task Force Chair, Mr. Tea Time Vernon Brown.

Baker also lists she is a ‘Community Director’. I did a little digging around, and apparently she heads up a youth group called ‘Youth Roots’ since April 1st. Whatever that is.

I still think the results are a little skewed. While I had no doubt that Nan and Carly would win, I had Nan in 1st place with a sliding vote count going to Carly, Lora and Sarah. It’s a little odd that Nan and Carly got the EXACT same percentage and Sarah and Lora got almost identical to. I also find it a little odd that there was over 700 undervotes but in the bond election there was ONLY 2 (I think, can’t find supporting docs anymore), in 2018 school board election there was 0, in 2017 there was 25 and in 2016 there was 0, in 2015 there was 0.

If you think the SFSD is running their elections above board, I beg to differ.

UPDATE II: Sioux Falls School District vote count complicated

UPDATE II: The AL has a great story this morning about ‘top heavy’ administrative pay (the story should have been done before the election, but better late then never). You can take it the way you want to, but I love the goobly-guck the SFSD uses to justify the enormous pay gap between administrators and teachers. They say SF should pay administrators more because we are a bigger city. LOL. You also have MORE administrators. Over $9 million of this year’s budget goes toward administrative pay which hovers at around $100K average per administrator.

Click to enlarge

CORRECTION: I had originally posted that the votes were counted twice, that is not the case. I jumped to conclusions. A commenter pointed out that you have a possibility of TWO votes per ballot. I feel like a dumbass. But I still stand by what I wrote below. The undervotes are NOT being shown correctly. I also wonder what the odds are of the top two vote getters TYING?

Just look for yourself, according to the SFSD results page, 4,239 votes were counted and 4,247 were cast.

UPDATE: OKAY, this isn’t as bad as it looks, but it’s still questionable, once you figure out that each ballot ‘can’ contain TWO votes. But it also can contain just one or none.

But if you add up the vote count of the four candidates and undervotes you come to a grand total of; 8,478 votes. If if you divide it by 2 you get 4,239 ballots (actual number of ballots counted).

By these numbers they are saying that everyone voted for two candidates. While you certainly could vote for two, some people only vote for one. Where it gets even more complicated, if they seem to have counted the undervotes TWICE. In other words, they consider one blank ballot as TWO undervotes.

I’m even more confused now.


Major FAIL on Political Mailer

As a person who has worked on political mailers for over a decade, certain things have to be right. The most important things are dates, typos and ‘PAID FOR’ designation.

I don’t even know where to start with Baker’s postcard. First off, I received this card TODAY, the day of the election. Not good. It appears she probably mailed this on Friday or Saturday, but with Presort STD, there are NO guarantees when something will show up in your mailbox. The PO guarantees 10-11 days for Presort STD. In SF, it’s between 2-3 days. She should have mailed this NO later than Wednesday or Thursday or went with 1st Class.

But here is the worst part, She only has 10 precincts listed and only 4 of them are correct, the other six in yellow don’t exist. Bad, very bad. How is it that someone running for the School Board doesn’t have enough sense to check the SFSD’s website for polling places?

How will the Sioux Falls School District pay for staffing of the new schools?

And I’m not just talking about teachers. You also have support staff, administrators, janitors, resource officers, etc. There is also utilities and maintenance.

This question came up during the campaign for the bond election. The administration blew it off and pretty much said they will figure it out later and the state gives money for each student. This of course doesn’t solve the problem.

So where will the money come from? My guess is that the SFSD will ask for ANOTHER opt out to fund the operations and staff. They really have NO CHOICE. We saw it with the shortfall this year.

So why wasn’t this clarified during the bond election campaign? I think I answered that question. They didn’t want to scare the taxpayers anymore. What most people don’t realize is that the $300 million dollar debt is only for brick and mortar. Not only is it ONLY for that, it is ONLY for the finished product. Moving forward we are responsible to maintain it out of NEW funds.

The SFSD is fleecing it’s residents. As brought up in the current school board debate our levees may be lower than surrounding communities, but our property values are extremely inflated, especially in Lincoln County.

It will be interesting to see how these new schools will be funded, because it won’t be from hopes and prayers.

Sioux Falls School Board – Dem Forum (5/17/19)

I want to commend all the candidates for not making this into a ‘Mickelson Money Fest’ most of them have kept their campaign budgets LOW so far. Of course we will see what is spent after Tuesday, but I think for the most part they are on a level playing field. The one interesting thing I found though is that Nan Baker says her occupation is ‘Community Director’ but doesn’t list an employer. Hmm.

Interesting Human Relations Commission hearing

I believe the case will be heard next week, 10 AM on Wednesday, probably in city hall at old commission chambers. Please read the complaint here (DOC: Human-Relations).

Jesus Pena has lived in the United States since he was the age of four. He was born in 1951. He has been a US resident for decades and has worked all over the country as an assistant surveyor and civil engineering technician. All he wanted to do was become a licensed surveyor himself, but was apparently being discriminated against while taking courses at SE Tech (3 semesters) (I’m still verifying the name of the professor who allegedly treated him this way).

It’s unfortunate to hear something like this, especially with the intent of trying to draw more students to SE Tech and the new proposed SF Community College. As our community continues to become more diverse we need to put a clamp down on educators who discriminate based on race and age.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls School Board Election, Tuesday May 21

There are 4 candidates running for 2 spots with one incumbent. Alberty is NOT seeking re-election (I wonder if he will be offered a job with the district like the previous School Board President)?

I am recommending a vote for Anderson and Hubbel. While one is a liberal and the other a conservative, they do see eye to eye on several matters, including transparency and putting students/teachers first. Both have been critical of the top heavy administration and lack of public engagement.

While Reiter is the incumbent, in the 6 years she has been on the board, she has simply been a rubber stamper only questioning the administration when she knew her NO vote wouldn’t really matter. Baker was co-chair of the school bond issue task force. I was hardly impressed with that process.

There are two forums, Today at 5:30 at the IPC that the Chamber is sponsoring, it most likely will be live feed on the Chamber’s FB page and the School District’s YouTube Channel. There is a 2nd forum tomorrow at NOON at Democratic Forum, Royal Fork meeting room.

The School District will again use vote centers (most of them located in the Southern part of the city). I believe there is 13 of them, you can vote at any of them with a valid ID. The election will likely be hand counted again, but I am not sure. My guess is if we get around 3,500 votes cast, I will be surprised, so this could be anyone’s game.