Entries Tagged 'SF School District' ↓

Sioux Falls School District continues to crank out propaganda while possibly breaking state election/campaign laws

Missteps by the School District continue to mount.

The story going around is that the district mailed out around 60k of the ‘Ignite’ flyer. Or as a foot soldier said to me last night, “Have you seen the ‘G-nite’ flyer.”

As someone who has worked in printing and design for over 25 years, I will hold back on my critique of the poorly designed piece and only focus on how our tax dollars are being spent. (they put the important budget information in 4 point type)

First, the entire piece seems to be in violation of state campaign laws by expending tax dollars to promote passing the school bond. They pretty much say everything besides ‘Vote Yes’. Ding. Ding. Ding. You lost.

NOTE: Super Maher will be at Dem Forum Friday at NOON spreading the love.

Click to enlarge images


But the best piece was by School Board President, Alberty;


You know, I have met Kent a few times, I didn’t know he was a comedian. Isn’t it ironic he points out that when you have ‘joint’ elections with all the precincts, voter numbers go up AND in another ironic move claims he is ‘saving us money’ by having a stand alone super-precinct election.

Hey Kent, I heard they offer remedial math classes at SE Tech. You may be able to get a discount. Not sure? But worth looking into.

You would save us thousands of dollars by having it with the general election AND you would get a larger voter turnout. But what makes his article ‘comedy hour’ is bragging about saving us a couple of grand while asking for a $300 million dollar tax increase. That’s gold Kent! Gold!

So let’s look at the 13 precincts, and obvious attempt to circumvent the YES vote. I circled the wide swaths of areas in red that will not have ‘vote centers’. Notice the NORTH end again is ignored. The central poorer area is ignored. But for some strange reason, the ‘nice school’ districts have vote centers AND all of sudden the school district has recinded their NO precincts at schools rule that they have during other elections. Interesting.

As I have mentioned in the past, this is possible violation of Federal Law. But hey, when we are breaking state campaign laws, why not break Federal ones too.

This entire election is a SHAM, and I encourage everyone to VOTE on September 18 a resounding NO and make our school board and administration go back to the drawing board.

We can educate our kids better, we can END segregation through ENDING open enrollment and we can do it fiscally prudent. Let’s make it a priority that the education of our kids come before the profits of banksters, bond salesman and contractors. We deserve better and the School Board and Administration should be ashamed of this plan, it is disgraceful.

Fix is In; Sioux Falls School District plans to ‘Hand Count’ $300 Million Bond Election

We are going to have 13 precincts and hand count a $300 million dollar tax increase;

5. Amending Previous School Board Action

    Bev Chase 367-7905

Amending Action 38091, adopted 7-23-18, by acknowledging for the record that the Board has directed the administration to designate the whole District as one precinct, use 13 Vote Centers for the Special Bond Election and further stating for the record that the administration will count the votes manually

This is beyond ludicrous. The School Board should be embarrassed they would ask voters for this large of a tax increase with 13 precincts and no record of tabulation by using a machine.

Sioux Falls School Bond; Is it $2 a month or early payoff?

The more I think about the recent comments from the school district’s bond counsel about the $110 million in interest ‘scare tactic’, the more it just doesn’t add up.

On one hand they say you will pay $2 a month for $185K home valuation for the life of the loan (25 years at 4%) but on the other hand they say the $110 in interest isn’t fair because they will ‘pay it off early’.

You can’t have both!

If the loan goes the full 25 years, the $2 a month is true, and also is the $110 million in interest. If they pay it off early, they only have one way to do that, change the tax levee to bring in more money. This is the ONLY way they would pay the loan off early is if they increase taxes, which would change the $2 a month argument.

Let’s face it, this is a ‘bait and switch’. They know they will have to try to pay off these bonds ASAP so they can borrow more down the road, and the only way they will be able to do that is increasing our property taxes.

So please tell us, is it $2 a month for 25 years or early payoff for tax increases later? Still waiting for the school district to apply transparency to this process not just talk about it.

Will Sioux Falls Adults be looking at $10K per capita debt in a couple of years?

Before all the math wizards start freaking out, I want you to know the numbers below are approximates, but close. One of the numbers I had trouble finding was the SF School District current debt. From looking at past data I believe it is hovering at that $100 million mark, but I am unsure, it could be higher. I based the number on their yearly debt service of $13 million which would put them a little above that $100 million mark. I’m also spit balling the city debt a bit, because I am basing that on 2017 numbers minus some major payoffs.

The Sioux Falls Adult population numbers are very, very close.

Where it gets a little sticky is I am using the entire county of Minnehaha’s debt while only including SF adults. I also leave Lincoln county out (I would be surprised if they had any debt) and the fact that NOT all SF adult residents live in the Sioux Falls school district.

Yes friends, living in Sioux Falls is a ‘Hot Mess’ of taxes. In fact your neighbor just across the street could be paying a different property tax rate than you, it’s that weird.

But, I also think the enormity of the numbers helps people better grasp that if you live in Minnehaha County, within the city limits of Sioux Falls and the SF School District, your per capita (govt) debt could easily reach $10K in the next 4-5 years.

This is why I often shake my head when the school district talks about $2 a month tax increase, or the Water Department talks about $.30 a month water and sewer increases, they never mention the current and future debt we will be taking on. It’s a boatload.

Realistically, how many adult working SF residents could cut a check for $10K tomorrow without borrowing it or hurting their personal finances? My guess it is probably less than 1%. We don’t live our lives this way, why should our government?

The irony is that our debt is half of what T. Denny is worth. Hint. Hint.

We could finally put the Sanford Falls sign up.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls School District Propaganda Machine in full swing

UPDATE: By the school district using their media department and resources to promote the election they may be violating state law (Link to OPINION HERE). Just listen to some of the language like “It’s not extravagant.” “It’s ONLY $2 a month.” “Vote centers make it CONVENIENT to vote.” “We have been TRANSPARENT.” “The Chamber of Commerce supports the bonds.”

Remember; There is NO plan on how to staff the new schools. The super precinct (13), special election will limit voter participation which will make it a low voter turnout, which means a couple thousand people will decide a $300 million dollar tax increase. The E-Poll books are unreliable and so is the person running the elections for the school district. Who will tabulate the votes? We need a paper trail. There has been no payoff amount given to the public, the school district claims they will ‘pay it off early’, but have no evidence how they will do that. The task force has several conflicts of interest. VOTE NO on this bond, it’s too much, we need to re-district first and explore adding on to existing schools!

Sioux Falls School District bond election to use ‘Vote Centers’

So the School District couldn’t say a damn thing at Monday night’s board meeting, but seem to sing like a canary once the cameras are off. They are proposing to run the election, in which we will be asked to bond well over $300 million dollars, using super precincts or vote centers.

While I am not a fan of vote centers, they CAN work if you work them correctly. Unfortunately, this is NOT the scenario we want. Why?

First, the obvious. This is a lot of money. We should open this election to the entire community at ALL precincts and we should put it in with the general election. Having a special election in the middle of September with only a handful of precincts guarantees a very low voter turnout. The school district argues they must have their levees and budget set by September 30. Poppycock, they can amend the budget and levees at any time and have admitted this already on KSOO and in the Argus Leader.

Second, Bev Chase with the School District, who will be running this election, has a terrible record on running elections. They should be contracting with the county to handle this. Last time she ran a stand alone election in 2017 there was a myriad of problems, absentee voting was locked up when she was on lunch break, many people who voted were not reported to the SOS data base that they voted in the election (I have had at least 3 voters tell me this), there were NO precincts in the entire northern part of the city.

Third, we have no idea what kind of E-Poll book they will be using and who will be running the software. This could open the election up to tampering, hacking, and voter fraud. If the software does not work correctly, people could vote multiple times at multiple precincts. Hart Interactive who originally created the hardware and software for E-Poll books no longer supports them. BPro tried to get them to work in the primaries and failed so miserably that the SOS said she will not allow their use in the General. So what tricks does the School District have up their sleeve?

Who will tabulate the votes? A hand count isn’t going to cut it. This needs to be tabulated and data needs to be generated so the SOS knows who voted. This is a large sum of money that will increase our taxes over the next 25-30 years, this isn’t electing some yahoo to the school board.

We have made the local chapter of the ACLU aware of these issues, some may be a violation of Federal Election laws, hopefully they will look into it.

Vote Yes for Schools trades one conflict of interest for another

As we see, the Vote Yes campaign is co-chaired by Vernon Brown (Who was the co-chair of the Envision Task Force with Nan Baker) and has Stephanie Gongopoulos as the Treasurer. While it seems Nan is not involved (probably because of the bonds) it seems that conflict hasn’t changed much. It is NO secret that the bonds MAY go through First National Bank which is owned by the Baker family. Well guess what? Stephanie is Nan’s sister-in-law with the maiden name BAKER. As I have said before, if the bonds DO NOT go through First National there will not be a conflict issue, but if they do, it seems now they have TWO conflicts. There is also the question if the School District does any business with Vernon’s employer SDN? It looks like they do. This is something that should also be disclosed.

While I support new schools and bonding for them, we have a ton of unknowns; What is the final payoff of the bonds? $300 million? How will we pay for staffing? How much will our taxes compound over the 30 year payoff period? How will we vote (precincts)? Who will tabulate election? Who will handle absentees? Where will the precincts be? What are the locations of the new schools? Why are we not redistricting first? It seems to me they are looking to get a pile of money and figure it out later. A better approach would be to do this with the general election in November. This would give us time to redistrict and pick locations. This would also give us a more realistic number (I think we should scale it back to $100 million and ask for more money if we need it later). If you can’t trust the process, you can’t approve these bonds.

Sioux Falls School Board ‘Brags’ about transparency but didn’t answer a single one of my questions

I used to tell Former Mayor Bucktooth & Bowlcut that just saying something is transparent doesn’t automatically make it transparent. It seems our school board suffers from the same affliction. After I grilled them about the unknowns and the lack of transparency they bragged about how transparent the process has been without answering my questions, and they were pretty simple;

• What is the final cost of this 30 year bond? The Finance Director fumbled around this question only saying the last bond was paid off early.

• Are we using super precincts and E-Poll books? No answer.

• Will the county be handling tabulation and absentee voting? No answer.

• What is the compounding affect of the tax. Super Maher said, “You will pay $2 per $185K valuation.” No answer.

• How will you fund staffing/maintenance of the schools? No answer.

• Another lady asked how many homes will be destroyed building a new Whittier? No answer except that they haven’t picked locations yet. How do you have a dollar amount of new construction when you don’t know what land you are going to purchase?

• Why was the survey sent to non-voters? They said this was for ‘educating’ purposes. Just because some has the information doesn’t mean they will vote. The survey doesn’t mean a hill of beans.

Like I said, there was a lot of back patting about how they took 18 months to get here, but little answers to the important questions.

A question I have often pondered is, “If you don’t tell someone the information to begin with, is it lying?” No. But it is incredibly deceptive.

Sioux Falls School Board really doesn’t want you at the meeting tomorrow night

On Friday when the School Board agenda is supposed to come out, it didn’t, missing at least the Friday night news cycle. So by state law the agenda must come out 24 hours in advance.

So I guess someone went down to the IPC Sunday morning and decided to put up the agenda. (notice it was posted today)

Besides the fact that they waited until the last possible minute, they put the bond election last on the agenda hoping no one would stick around.

They really don’t want anyone talking about this. They don’t even mention the true cost of the bonds which will hover at $300,000,000.00;

1. Declaration of Necessity. It is hereby found, determined and declared that it is necessary and expedient for this School District to borrow money by issuing its general obligation school bonds in an amount not exceeding $190,000,000 payable from 1 and not to exceed 30 years from date of issuance, bearing interest payable at such times and at such rate or rates as may be determined by the School Board, to fund a new high school, a new middle school, a new elementary school, additions and expansions to existing school facilities, land purchases, other school district improvements, furnishing and equipping same and financing costs of issuance, if so approved by the voters.

So I found this paragraph interesting when it comes to who will handle the election, how many precincts, etc.;

3. Polling places and Judges. Polling places and judges and clerks for said election shall be selected according to South Dakota Law.

Okay, so what does that mean?

I encourage anyone who stands for open and transparent government to go to the school board meeting Monday night at 5:30 PM at the IPC and sign up to speak about the clear lack of transparency on this issue. While I support new schools, I don’t support bullsh*tting the public about the true cost and how the election will be ran. Not only is it bad government it is a terrible civic lesson for our young minds.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls School District intends to use ‘Super Precincts’ for bond election

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Councilor Theresa Stehly was on KSFY last night with concerns about this election;

The Sioux Falls School Board is set to vote on whether the special election will happen on Monday, July 23. The special election would take place Sept. 18. Stehly said as of right now, Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz said he has not been contacted by the board to assist with the vote.

“I’m hoping that the school district is going to partner up with our county auditor to allow that County Auditor’s office to handle all the absentee ballots and also to be the intaker of counting the ballots at the end of the night,” Stehly said.

There are also some other concerns. The original company that created the E-Poll books hardware and software was ‘HART InterCivic’. They no longer technically support the devices. This is why the SOS had so many issues with them in the primary election. ‘BPro’ convinced the state they could get the devices to work, but didn’t have the proper software to handle the data (this is the rumor circulating). So the question is, as I said originally, how is the school district going to have ‘super precincts’ when they don’t have a proper and safe way to operate the E-Poll books? And shouldn’t we have them machine tabulated, especially in a $300 million dollar bond issue? The SF school board needs to have a long discussion before Monday’s decision to have a September election.

According to a source, Doug Morrison told them they intend to use Super Precincts for the school bond election. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, the obvious. The Secretary of State said they will not support E-Poll books. I believe the School District owns their own books, but who will be maintaining the IT work on them if the SOS has said they will not accept them? Also, will the Minnehaha County Auditor be contracted to machine tabulate the votes or will they perform a hand count internal canvass?

Secondly, using super precincts that don’t extend to every district within the Sioux Falls school district could be a violation of Federal law because they would be disenfranchising certain sectors of the community. Precincts have to be a certain distance from voters. In the 2016 school board election they neglected to have super precincts in the entire northern part of the district. That won’t fly this time.

By having a stand alone, super precinct election they will have a very low voter turnout. In other words the final polling will NOT reflect what the survey did, a 60% support. The survey postcards were sent to almost every household in Sioux Falls (83,000 addresses). Obviously, many of the people who the postcards were sent to are NOT registered voters and are highly unlikely to show up to a stand alone school district election. My guess is if they break a 51% approval they will be lucky (they need a 60% approval). The Event Center advisory vote which was very popular and had a high voter turnout received around 55%.

There is also a rumor circulating that the Co-chairs of the Task Force, Vernon Brown and Nan Baker will be heading up a private promotional committee. This could be viewed as a conflict of interest.

The school board votes on Monday to set the date of the special election. There are many unanswered questions, such as what the final cost of the bonds will be (IMO it will be $300 million) and how do they intend to fund the staffing of the new schools (they have no plan at this point).

I support building new schools, but this process has been less than transparent and has a lot of unknowns surrounding it. It’s based on a lot of wishful thinking.