Entries Tagged 'SF School District' ↓

$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;

SouthDaCola Podcast 21: School Bond Vote

We were joined by Mortgage Banker Craig Markhardt. and Peter Pischke. Listen HERE.

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.

Even with record building permits, why can’t the school district trust capital outlay to fund new school construction?

First, the puzzling news today that the school district doesn’t have a Plan ‘B’ if the bond fails. I would think if it fails on September 18, they would quickly go back to the drawing board and present another bond to be on the ballot in November. Makes you wonder if they are just assuming they have it in the bag. Things that make you go ‘Hmm.’

But what is even more puzzling to me is that they don’t want to pay for these schools through the capital outlay by raising levees when we have had close to a decade of record building permits. With all this new commercial tax revenue coming in (and housing prices going through the roof) you would think it would be a cake walk to just borrow half now and pay down the rest through the levees?

This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Council to Dissolve TWO TIF’s on Tuesday

UPDATE: It seems they are moving forward with a ‘Market Rate’ apartment project and this is why the TIF is being dissolved. Funny how a TIF is now not needed since they are going to build apartments that they can charge whatever for rent. Further proof all TIFs are is developer welfare.

Many people have been asking about a supposed project North of Sunshine Grocery Downtown that received a TIF and why it hasn’t proceeded.

It seems that TenHaken administration is taking action by asking through resolution to have the council dissolve that TIF and the TIF that COSTCO never accepted. As I understand it, Norm Drake from Legacy is somehow involved with the Downtown TIF (part of it is where the current temporary dog park is located) and COSTCO opposed their TIF from the beginning because they don’t like how TIFs take from public education funding.

As I have been saying about the $190 million dollar bond issue, why are we borrowing so much on the backs of homeowners while wealthy developers are getting tax rebates? Just another reason why the Bond issue AND TIFs are flawed.

Council Agenda Items #46-47

Details Below;

Should the Sioux Falls School District have an independent audit before they borrow money?

A SouthDaCola foot soldier informed me today that my letter made the dead tree version of our local paper (but I can’t find it online) so I have it below. But he told me that after working for the SFSD that their is incredible administrative waste and there should be an audit.

I wonder when the last time the School District was externally audited?

My letter;

We have NO choice but to build new schools. But if we borrow the entire $190 million we will pay up to $110 million in interest over the life of the loan. That is $110 Million to bond investors, NOT education.

The school district has presented NO plan on early payoff and no fiscal plan on staffing the new schools. They also have NO plan to end open enrollment which has created segregation, NO plan for redistricting until after the new facilities are built and NO idea where the new schools will be located.

Some members of the Envision task force that organized this bond vote have significant conflicts of interest in financial and technical contracts with the District.

The District has already spent thousands on a push poll survey postcard and Ignite Newsletter. It is a possible violation of state campaign rules using tax dollars to promote a bond issue.

The 13 precinct vote centers election mostly in the southern part of the district is also troublesome. The election should be held with the general in November. Not only would it make it more convenient, cost less, have a higher voter turnout and use all the precincts it would also be electronically documented. The E-Poll books being used for the vote center special election failed during the statewide primaries. If not working properly there could be repeat votes and NO way of tracking them since we are hand tabulating the vote.

There is a better way.

I suggest we borrow only $100 million and pay for the future facilities through the capital outlay over time. The District’s finance department said they couldn’t ‘trust’ Pierre regulating levees. The Sioux Falls School district spends thousands lobbying our State Legislature. They need to do a better job. Either plan will raise our taxes, but I believe this alternative plan will put more of our tax dollars towards the projects and less to bond investors. VOTE NO on September 18 and tell the school district to go back to the drawing board with a fiscally responsible plan.

Vote NO on School Bond ‘Mystery’ group making Robocalls

I have been trying to figure out who the group is behind a ‘VOTE NO’ robocalls on the school bond issue.

I have no idea.

My guess is it is a anti-tax group with possible ties to Americans for Prosperity.

If anyone can put me in touch with them that would be great. I would like to help them anyway possible (unless of course they are an anti-public education group).

Two Sioux Falls City Councilors supporting troublesome school bond issue

Councilors Kiley and Erickson have joined the drum beat of public officials who are encouraging people to vote yes for the school bond issue. It is well within their 1st Amendment rights to voice their opinions. What is troublesome though is that we have elected officials who support not only a dubious election but a very wasteful bond loan. For every $3 we put towards this in tax dollars over $1 goes towards interest and bond investors. Over a $100 million of tax dollars that will never be spent on education.

Another city councilor has worked behind the scenes to try to get the election to use ALL of the precincts, no E-Poll books and have the vote be electronically counted by the Minnehaha County Auditor. Their request fell on deaf ears.

The E-Poll books failed in the primaries because the company that created them no longer services them (Hart Interactiv) and another company, B-Pro has stepped in to try to get them to work. If the E-Poll books don’t work properly there is no way of knowing if people voted multiple times, and if they are hand counted, there is no way of knowing if ballots have been tampered with.

While the election process and extreme waste of tax dollars is troubling in itself, it upsets me even more that we have two public officials promoting this.

Talk about a lack of fiscal responsibility and democratic principles.

Sioux Falls School Bond issue incredible waste of education tax dollars

I’m not naïve, I can see the writing on the wall. This special election with a small number of precincts will probably only get supporters out to support the bond issue. In other words my opinion is starting to change, they may just have a good chance of getting this bond passed by the 60% + 1 threshold.

But let’s face reality here.

One argument I hear a lot from my friends who support these bonds is that we need to spend MORE on public education. I couldn’t agree more. But where we fail on this bond issue is the incredible waste involved. Basically for every $3 of tax dollars expended, only $2 of it goes towards education. We are borrowing $190 million with $110 million in interest. The $110 doesn’t get spent on education, it goes straight from our wallets in the form of property taxes to bond investors. Not one single penny of it will be spent on education. What makes it even worse is that the bond investors live all over the country and possibly world, so that money won’t even get recirculated in our economy.

So you ask what the solution is? Well, I think we should take out smaller bonds that can be paid off faster using the capital outlay. While our taxes most likely will go up (there is No escaping that fact), this allows MORE money to go towards the actual projects instead of bond interest. It also stretches out the debt and tax increases. This is something Public Works Director Mark Cotter suggested during the task force meetings and was told they couldn’t trust Pierre. A horrible excuse to blow $110 million of tax dollars on bond investors instead of education.

The other sad reality is that this $190 million is only being spent on brick and mortar. There is no long term plan to staff the schools and where that money will come from.

I hope people wake up before September 18 and come out in droves to vote down this incredibly dubious bond proposal that only lines the pockets of banksters and does very little in helping education in our community.


Sioux Falls School Bond issue supporters have begun robo calls

I have heard from at least two people that they have gotten robo calls about the school bond issue. One was a push poll the other was asking them to vote yes.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. There will be a lot of money and effort spent to get this passed, several important people in town have a lot at stake and a lot of money to make.

Maher made the point yesterday that they will have the contractor and architectural bids completely open (ironically this transparency is a requirement by law). When someone has a $190 million of taxpayer money to be spent locally, I guarantee the banksters, realtors, contractors, developers and engineers will be lining up to the trough. Remember, these public projects pay well and it is a reliable source of income.

It seems these days if the hospitals or the government wasn’t building, the contractors in town wouldn’t have much to do.

Just look at the recent past and future;

EC – $115 Mil

Pool – $25 Mil

Admin – $25 Mil

Water Treatment – $230 Mil

Downtown Hotel/Parking Ramp – $50 Mil ($20 mil public)

Schools – $190 Mil

Jail – $48 Mil

That is over $600 Million in public projects in less than a decade. When you tack on interest you are plenty South of a Billion dollars.