Entries Tagged 'SF School District' ↓

Sioux Falls City Council (12/11) & SF School Board (12/10) Meetings

Meeting I is the informational. Meeting II is the Regular city councilor and Meeting III is SF School Board (where they were actually open about who they were buying the middle school land from BEFORE the meeting started on the agenda – Shocker!)

Argus ED Board Chastises SF School District on transparency

While I applaud the Argus for writing this, I have a feeling it won’t change much;

It’s hard to imagine a public entity that necessitates transparency more than a school district, which operates under a compact of trust with families that send their children to school each day.

(The Argus requested to see the bids for the Construction Manager at Risk and the SFSD refused to give them to them citing state law ‘competive proposal process’. I find it ironic that they said that the state ‘doesn’t require’ them to give the information, but they could . . .)

It often surprises me that the SFSD wants our help and all ears when they need to pass bonds or more for teacher pay, but say very little when spending our money. ALL taxpayers (with or without children) should be deeply involved with public education, not just for fiscal reasons, but for the future of our children.

FOLLOWUP ON ELECTION

We are preparing a response to the SFSD about the half-ass information they gave us on the election. I will publish once we finish it.

Sioux Falls School Board meetings are turning into comedy shows

You really couldn’t make this stuff up unless you were writing for the Onion;

The same company credited with a $1 million donation to buy land for the new Sioux Falls high school will oversee its construction.

Journey Group was awarded a $3.67 million contract with the Sioux Falls School District Monday night during a regular school board meeting. The contract authorizes Journey to serve as the district’s construction manager at risk as it designs and constructs a planned $84 million high school.

Superintendent Brian Maher said the decision to buy the northwest Sioux Falls land that came with Journey’s $1 million donation was completely separate from the decision to hire the company to oversee construction.

“One of the things that we said very early on is Journey should not get this job because of the land acquisition of the school district,” Maher said. “The other piece of that is they should not be precluded from getting this job.”

I literally had to read Brian’s statement 3 times before I busted up laughing. Do you think the citizens are that naive? I just assumed the land donation was tied into a lucrative contract to build the school. I even stated on Lalley’s show that Journey is a good company that has a proven track record, I don’t think citizens would balk at the decision. Are we supposed to be surprised? I said all along that most of these decisions were probably made before the task force even met.

But it doesn’t stop board members from adding an extra layer of frosting;

“I was very pleased with all four, but Journey really was impressive,” board member Todd Thoelke said Monday ahead of the board vote. “And it’s the one I’m most comfortable with.”

He should of just said, “While the Walmart and Dollar Store cola’s are a good value, we had to go with Coca-Cola at my kid’s birthday party.”

As I said to a friend the other day, we all know they are going to pick Jefferson for the name of the new HS, heck the Super has even hinted at it. So why waste time and resources on a naming committee? I said Maher should just say on December 1st, “We have decided to name the new school Jefferson. If anybody or any group in Sioux Falls has an issue with that, fill out a petition supporting a different specific name and we will take it up for consideration on January 1st. Good luck.”

Just like the special school bond election, this naming process will be tightly controlled, and there will be zero wiggle room when they announce their pre-determined name of Jefferson. We will all be as shocked just like when they told us they were naming the EC after T Denny.

Local government is turning into open mic night.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Nov 27-28, 2018

No regular meetings this next week, but some interesting tidbits.

Joint Minnehaha County/SF City Council meeting • 4 PM (11/27)

This one is at the County Commission Chambers in the Administration Building.

Another study by Augustana on Homeless peeps. Why do homeless studies cost so much? What? No qualified volunteers?

DOC: Homeless-Study

Breakfast Club • 7:30 AM (11/28)

What an interesting topic to cover over juice and donuts;

 

The Secret of the $300 million dollar School Bond revealed

Many asked why the Sioux Falls School District needed a $50 million dollar ‘slush fund’ in the bond. I knew why, and it seems some of that is being revealed;

The district’s school board approved a contract Wednesday with Koch Hazard Architects to expand and renovate Memorial Middle School’s music area.

Yes, this is the same firm that went millions over budget on the Pavilion, screwed up the balcony and was in the middle of the siding settlement fiasco at the Denty. Rumor has it that they have gone millions over budget on their own projects also.

Why do we continue to throw public money at a firm who consistently squanders our money?

I guess this explains the ‘slush fund’. The SFSD district had to prepare themselves for the cost overruns. They could save taxpayers even more if they would just hire a firm that is qualified and has some fiscal restraint.

Speaking of the extreme ignorance of our educational wing of SF government, they finally put stricter rules on open enrollment. Something that should have been done 10 years ago and definitely before the bond vote. The boundaries should have also been redrawn.

But hey, when you have a $50 million dollar slush fund, it doesn’t matter if you make bad decisions, borrowed tax payer money can fix anything.

That’s because almost HALF are getting a free lunch (found at IPC)

Apparently having money to pay for lunch is also ancient history?

Sioux Falls School Board NOT transparent on Land Purchase

Sure, they followed all open meetings rules, but they were a little shady on what exactly they were discussing. When they had their meeting on Friday, they went into immediate executive session to discuss legal matters around purchasing land. They were vague as to what school they were buying land for. Here is the agenda/minutes below;

 

 

As you can see, they popped their heads out just long enough to vote then quickly scheduled a Wednesday meeting, which technically was a ‘work session’ but legally they can take action. Notice the ‘Notice’ on that meeting;

While they said there could be public input at the beginning, no mention of public input on Item #3, and even if you read the agenda ahead of time, there is NO exhibit telling us ‘what’ real property the SFSD is purchasing.

The 3 PM on a Wednesday afternoon meeting time also pretty much guarantees the public would not show up, even if public input would have been posted. They did ‘ask’ for public input on Item #3 as they were presenting it, but since it wasn’t posted that way on the agenda OR what Item #3 was really about, why would anyone show up for comment?

I figured once the bond passed the SFSD would go into full lockdown and NOT be transparent in anyway moving forward except what is required by law to the bare minimum.

Remember Homan’s lack of transparency? All of her staff still work for Maher. Konrad, Chase, Vik, etc.

I expect there to be extreme waste and secrecy surrounding the enormous $300 million dollar bond, and we won’t know the details until after it is too late. Makes you wonder if Ol’ Bucktooth and Bowlcut is running the show?

The Argus Leader’s Shelly Conlon has had several stories about the run up to the land selection process.

Here’s how that process unfolded during the last month, and especially the last couple weeks. The last three stories highlight the process, and includes an explanation from Alberty as to why they planned to decide the location during the work session instead of the regular meeting next week.

Architect hired, will help decide location by Nov. 1: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/education/2018/09/24/sioux-falls-school-district-architect-hired-design-new-high-school/1410927002/

District looks at 8 sites: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/education/2018/10/03/sioux-falls-school-district-new-high-school-update-name/1509165002/

Decision on where to put new high school taking longer than planned: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/education/2018/10/22/decision-where-put-new-sioux-falls-high-school-delayed/1731725002/

District remains tight-lipped on new location:  https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/education/2018/11/05/sioux-falls-school-district-remains-tight-lipped-new-high-school-location/1856857002/

School board set to decide new location: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/education/2018/11/06/new-high-schools-location-could-decided-wednesday/1906873002/

New location chosen: https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/education/2018/11/07/sioux-falls-school-district-new-high-school-cte-academy/1918342002/

SF School District turns down land gift from Sanford

Site ‘D’

The SFSD just decided this afternoon that they would NOT take the Sanford gift and build the new HS close to SE Tech. I find this interesting, especially after Sanford Hospital and Denny Sanford himself gave a combined $50K to the VOTE Yes campaign.
I also find it interesting that they took action during a ‘working session’. I think the SFSD board rules are different than the city council’s. It is a publicly noticed meeting, so there would have not been any issues there.

Why didn’t the SD ACLU look into the SFSD bond election?

Hoorah! The SD ACLU is going to give you a ride to the polls. Yet, they have no intention to investigate those same polls.

We told the ACLU before the school bond vote that the election should be looked into, especially how district employees were using taxpayer resources to promote a YES vote.

No response.

We told them about having NO precincts in the Northern part of the SFSD.

No response.

We told them that the election could be held with the general election (which would save taxpayers money) and use all available precincts.

No response.

We told them that the E-Poll books don’t work and super precincts are a way to sway the vote.

No response.

After the election we discovered that IPC employees, mostly Finance Department counted the vote. NO independent volunteers, NO teachers and NO poll watchers.

No response.

If the ACLU wants to promote fair, equal and open elections, they would be investigating the school bond vote. But they haven’t.

Why?

My guess is because it is about the free public education of kids. Which I would agree. But this wasn’t about the education of children, this was about running an election above board. We don’t know if it was, because the key piece of evidence that the ACLU could pressure to get, the ballots, are being withheld from us for 60 days.

Ironically the $300 million in bond debt doesn’t educate one single child, it doesn’t even raise teacher pay. Almost 75% of it goes towards East Coast bond investors and the rest to contractors who build the buildings.

If the ACLU wants to promote equality during elections, I would agree. This is why they should use their resources to look into the school bond election.

Could school for the deaf still become a new Whittier school?

There have been plenty of rumors swirling around the purchase of the former school for the deaf by a large church in Sioux Falls wanting to add a third location, but they may run into a snag.

According to one of South Dacola’s sources there may be something written into state law that if they sell it, the money goes back to the general fund and the Board of Regents loses it. But if they do a complicated transaction where the church buys a building for CSD, they can do a 1031 exchange and BOR can maintain control of those financial resources.

Another source told me that they may only be able to buy some of the private buildings but would have to lease the land (long term) from the state and BOR.

This may be why Lloyd companies backed out on a previous deal. We’ll see if the church succeeds, if it gets too complicated for them, we may be able to use the space for it’s intended use EDUCATION and a new Whittier school.