Entries Tagged 'SF School District' ↓

UPDATE: SFSD sends $100 million in interest payments to East Coast Bond Investors

UPDATE: It was fun watching the SFSD Board Meeting in which they quickly glazed over the finances so they could have a 10 minute presentation about marching band (don’t get me wrong, it was a great presentation) I just thought talking about tax payers expenses would have garnered the same attention.

When they did get to the Demographic report where they mentioned almost 50% of students are on Free or Reduced lunches, Board Member Kate Parker said, “We need to talk about that one of these days?” Well since this has been on the climb for almost a decade, when will that ‘magically day’ come Kate? When it hits 70%, 80% or maybe 90%? It always chaps my hide when we are constantly screaming teachers need to get paid more in SD (I agree, they do) but all wages in this state need to rise, so parents of these students can afford to feed their children, rising tides raises all boats.

As I predicted before the school district bond election, we were going to take out bonds which would cost around $100 million in interest payments over 20 years. Those interest payments DON’T go towards education, they DON’T go towards teacher pay, programming, or even building the new facilities. They go towards East Coast bond investors.

This was the fundamental issue with the bonding. We could have bonded less, built the schools we need now AND paid for the future schools through Capital Outlay. We would have still had to pay bond investors, but it would have saved us about $50 million. I will say it again, I am all for public education, I am even NOT against my taxes going up for it. But with all of our growth in SF we can pay for these projects as we need them with the current tax structure. We don’t need to line the pockets of Bond Investors.

50% of Capital Outlay goes towards debt service

This finance report is very telling;

Over half of our current Capital Outlay goes towards debt service. No where in the reports can I find the school district’s current debt (before taking out $300 million in bonds). But my educated guess is somewhere between $100-200 million. This would have been an important side note before we took out even more debt before the election.

Demographics Report of the SFSD

It seems we have a lot of smart people in the District educating our very poor student body;

As you can see, the more students that are enrolled in our elementary system need more assistance.

*What I also find interesting about posting the Monday agenda for the SFSD board meetings is that the final documents and attachments don’t get updated until Sunday. Is it because a school district employee is posting these docs on Sunday? Probably not. There is this little trick with the internets where you can ‘time stamp’ postings. I do it all the time with my blog. In other words I can schedule a post well in advance by using a ‘time stamp’. This tells me the District has this information in advance but chooses to post it only 24 hours before the public can view it. Why do they do that? Well that is a very good question.

UPDATE: Will the Harrisburg School Bond election results give us some insight on the SF election

UPDATE: The Bond election passed with almost 85% approval (no surprises there) and like the SFSD election a low voter turnout, about 10%. I still wonder how these elections would have turned out if held with the Mid-Terms.

I think it will be very interesting to see the results of the Harrisburg School Bond tonight.

There are many differences. Harrisburg is taking out $40 million (not $190) and they are having NO tax increase attached to it (their levee is already higher than SF).

Another factor is that Harrisburg and other surrounding towns like Brandon and Tea tend to be a little more fiscally conservative when voting.

I still think it will pass, I’m even willing to say by 75%. But what if it is 85% or higher? Does that tell us that Sioux Falls 85% passage is believable? What if it is a lot lower? Or doesn’t pass (60%)?

The voter turnout will also be another factor.

While the results certainly can’t be compared 100% to the SF School Bond election, there will be some areas we can review and do some comparisons.

I also find it curious that the SFSD told voters they had to have the election in September because their budget HAD to be submitted to the state by September 30. So how is it that Harrisburg can have their election after that magical date in the middle of October and still be able to submit it to the state? Oh, that’s right, because the budget can be amended and submitted to the state later. Both Sioux Falls and Harrisburg school districts could have had their bond elections with the mid-term in November. It would have saved taxpayers money by holding it with the midterms. There would have been a larger voter turnout AND it would have been tabulated by a machine by an un-bias county auditor instead of having finance administrators count the votes by hand.

The results will be interesting.

SFSD uses mostly Finance Department District employees to count votes

I finally reviewed all the materials and will list my conclusions from the response of the SFSD to our documents request of the election below.

DOC PDF’s HERE:

2018-10-05 SFSD Special Bond Election Absentee Center Instructions

2018-10-05 SFSD Special Bond Election Amendment to Everyone Counts Inc Software License and Master Service Agreement

2018-10-05 SFSD Special Bond Election Instruction for Counting Board Workers

2018-10-05 SFSD Special Bond Election materials spreadsheet

2018-10-05 SFSD Special Bond Election Oaths

2018-10-05 SFSD Special Bond Election Tally Sheets

2018-10-05 SFSD Special Bond Election Todd Vik Letter

Many questions were not answered, such as;

• How did the E-Poll Book software work?

• After the votes were tabulated and written on a tally sheet, how did they get into the computer system? In other words, who entered those numbers?

• Why are we NOT allowed to look at the ballots until after 60 days?

• Why are we being charged to view or copy the ballots after the 60 days?

• Were the undervotes just provisional ballots that were no good? Were the actual undervotes counted or just discarded (unmarked ballots in the ballot box).

• We were also confused by the statement below that the county auditor had control of the E-Poll book data. As I understand it, the county auditor was NOT involved in the election whatsoever.

As you can see from the list below, the SFSD district mostly used district employees to count the votes, and most of them worked in the finance office. While this may not be illegal according to state law, it is certainly ethically questionable. The SFSD should have strived to find volunteers to count the votes that had ZERO ties to the SFSD. They really should have reached out to the major political parties and independents to count the votes and the ages should have ranged.

Absentee Precinct Workers

John Gauer, former Principal elementary school, 36 years SFSD

Dolores Gauer, John’s wife, also worked for school district, retired

Judy Sperling, Minnehaha County Republican Women (not sure if she has ties to the SFSD)

Sharon Redenius, IPC, Finance, SFSD

Counting Board

Anita Wheelhouse, IPC Finance, SFSD

Bert Keiser, IPC Finance, SFSD

Kayla Haines, IPC Finance, SFSD

Deb Muilenburg-Wilson, IPC Director of Special Services SFSD

Laura Raeder, Assistant Principal of Roosevelt HS, SFSD

Carly Uthe (Leither), – IPC Superintendent’s Office, SFSD

Joey Leither, – Carly Uthe’s husband

Elsa Johnson (Tabulating Superintendent), IPC, Curriculum Services, SFSD

Dustin Jansick, Works for Private video company  Could be relation to SE Tech Employee or Megan Jansick or both

Megan Jansick, Works for Sioux Falls Development Foundation – Could be relation to SE Tech Employee or Dustin Jansick or both

Joni DenHoed, IPC Finance, SFSD

Peter Poindexter, Works for Private company, Could be relation to Dawne Poindexter

Sarah Vanoverbeke, Could be relation to Lisa VanOverbeke

Lisa Vanoverbeke, IPC, Finance, SFSD

Ann Smith, IPC, Curriculum Services, SFSD

Michelle Bishop, IPC, Human Resources, SFSD

Maritza Carrizales, IPC, Superintendent’s office, SFSD

Dawne Poindexter (Tabulating Superintendent), IPC – Finance, SFSD

Some of the names listed in the SFSD election documents were either misspelled, mis-hyphenated or misrepresented (shortened/nick names or maiden names).

While we received the oath sheets that WERE signed, there was NO printed name next to the signature. Most of the signatures were unreadable. Not sure if this has any significance or NOT. Same goes for the TALLY sheets, while signed there was NO printed name.

The Everyone Counts contract only listed costs and services and did not really explain how the E-Poll Books work. But interestingly enough they plan to use the books again this Spring for the next school board election.

There was also a lot of ‘crossing out’ of numbers on the tally sheets with NO initials saying they were corrected or who corrected them. And the number of provisional ballots was completely crossed out on the main form. Not sure if this had to do with confusion or deception?

We will be responding to the SFSD in writing since many questions were unanswered and these documents presented even MORE questions.

Lalley on the School Board election and the former mayor’s speaking engagment

Pat talks about the topics at the beginning of his show.

We have been reviewing the documents and coming to some conclusions on the election.

Sioux Falls School District responds to Open Records request

The SFSD has responded to Bruce Danielson, Citizens for Integrity and our media partners. Bruce received a packet over the weekend from the District with bond election documents and resources. We are going to review with our partners and let you know what we find.

Stay tuned!

OPEN ENROLLMENT CHANGES

I also found the agenda interesting tonight, Item#13 is 1st Reading of stricter open enrollment rules (Which I 100% support). But I find it interesting that NONE of these changes were discussed BEFORE the election. If you look at the red notes in the exhibit you can tell they probably have been working on these changes for MONTHS. Makes you wonder if they knew showing these proposed changes to parents before the election would have affected the outcome? Slippery Petes.

(FF: 45:00)

UPDATE: Bruce addressed Sioux Falls School Board working session today about auditing bond election

Notice in the video below that Bruce is cut off at around 3:30 minutes. I guess they have a 3 minute limit at working sessions (where do they come up with these silly rules?). He had some other questions on his list to ask. He was going to ask what the current SFSD debt is before taking out a $300 million dollar bond. No one knows. The only thing I could find is $13 million in debt service in a financial report from last year(?). That would put their current debt at around $100-150 million. But it is still a mystery.

I also find the facial expressions and nervousness of Todd Vik, the business manager of the SFSD interesting. Mr. Vik is sitting in the corner and hunched over his laptop and NOT very happy about Bruce’s testimony. From what we could see from Brady Mallory’s FB video on election night Mr. Vik and Doug Morrison were the ones entering the vote tally into the computer. BUT, we are NOT certain because we haven’t been able to audit the election documents.

Which brings us to Bruce’s testimony. We still have received NO word from the SFSD if they are going to provide documents concerning the election which are taxpayer domain and owned by the taxpayers. They have said ZILCH.

I think they are playing a game of running out the clock.

Some have asked me if we get the opportunity to audit the election and the results are off by a considerable amount and the bonds have already been borrowed, than what happens? Honestly, I don’t know. I do know a lot of people would be in a lot of trouble, but I’m not sure if the bonds can be given back? I know, complicated.

If the SFSD really has all the integrity they claim to have, they would turn over the documents ASAP and let us look them over and recount the ballots. We could easily do it with a group of volunteers on a Saturday afternoon. They need to do this BEFORE one penny is borrowed.

It will be interesting to see what smoke and mirrors they present us. But after watching Mr. Vik and Mr. Alberty’s performance on this video, I expect this to get really messy before it gets resolved.

Notice the crickets after his presentation.

Harrisburg School District proposing a $40 Million bond with NO tax increases

I know, you must be scratching your head a little, as am I. How can the Harrisburg school district propose a $40 million dollar bond without a tax increase? Oh, I don’t know, it’s that little thing called GROWTH!

Rasmussen said there are enough new homes and businesses in the district to support the proposed $40 million dollar bond vote without increasing taxes.

This was my argument about the SFSD bond, with record breaking building permits for over 6 years and the massive growth in Sioux Falls, why would we have to increase property taxes for our bond? Or better yet just build the schools out of the capital outlay without bonding and paying a $100 million in interest. How can a small community like Harrisburg figure out this simple math problem and NOT Sioux Falls? Sometimes arrogance gets in the way of prudence.

I think it would be safe to assume that the Harrisburg bond will pass the 60% threshold easily, especially with NO tax increases. It will just be interesting to see if they hit 85%. Yeah right.

UPDATE: Citizens for Integrity requests documents from Sioux Falls School Bond Election

Oh the secrets you hold.

This letter was delivered today to the IPC. Besides my blog, several other media sources in Sioux Falls have signed on to assist with the records request. I will have more updates tomorrow.

Listen to Patrick Lalley’s recent rant on this issue.

September 27, 2018

Bev Chase
Executive Assistant

SF School District

201 E 38th St

Sioux Falls, SD 57105

Dear Ms. Chase:

Under the South Dakota Sunshine Law, §1-27-1 et seq., I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of public records including ballots, tally sheets, computer software, poll books, oaths and all other planning documents related to the September 18, 2018 Sioux Falls School Bond Election.

If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, please inform me if the cost will exceed $200.00.  However, I would also like to request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of September 18, 2018 Sioux Falls School Bond Election. I am asking for this material to be made available to a media pool being assembled for purposes related to news gathering involving this election.  This information is not being sought for commercial purposes.

Considering this election has just occurred, the information being requested should be readily available for inspection and testing. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer than a ‘reasonable’ amount of time, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records.

If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.

Thank you for considering my request.

Sincerely,

Bruce Danielson

Citizens for Integrity

PO Box 491

Sioux Falls, SD 57101

Cell: (605) 376-8087

Email: bruce@brdan.com

UPDATE from Citzens 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 election. 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 (Everyone Counts)

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 6th street 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.

 

UPDATE: All I asked was to audit the School Board Election

If you watch my testimony (FF:32:30) you will see that all I did was ask questions about how the vote was counted, presented historical data from other elections and asked to audit the election (see the processes, the software used, the paperwork from vote transfers and who entered the numbers in the system). The school board refused to answer any of the questions I asked. Never once did I say I thought they cheated I only questioned the precedent and would like to see the evidence. I even ended by saying that they may have reached the 85% precedent. I don’t know, I don’t have the evidence, it is locked up with the ballots according to the school district official who handled the election Bev Chase. In fact after the meeting Bruce and I asked if we could examine the ballots. She said NO. She also claimed she told the (TV) news that she was shredding the 2017 ballots. The news may have edited her, so I will take her word. But in the next breath she said she is keeping the school bond ballots for 6 years. So if you are keeping those ballots for 6 years why are you destroying the 2017 ballots? Made no sense at all.

——–

UPDATE: First the important business. A shout out to friend of the blog and KSOO Host, Patrick Lalley for defending me today and open government. It meant a lot. He hasn’t put the replay up yet, but his comment about ‘Soviet Election Results’ was very comical.

Also another shout out to Stace Nelson for defending me on the tweet machine;

It is absolutely the right of a taxpayer to question their government & demand answers. In a state that has covered up hundreds of millions of $ in corruption in EB5 & GEAR Up? had a right to ask the questions and receive answers. Why not machine count?

As for Stace’s comments on machine counting, I got an update from someone who talked to the Minnehaha county auditor on the ‘cancelled contract’ statements from the SFSD. I guess Mr. Litz was asked to handle the absentee but not the election. Litz felt this would complicate things with the verification process and he would prefer to run the entire election (absentee and regular election) or not at all. We know the choice the school district made.

Also, a city official asked the City Clerk, Tom Greco today what he would do if a citizen asked to look at the ballots from the last election? He said, he would let them look at them.

Funny how the County Auditor and City Clerk have no qualms about the work they did. Why? Because when you have checks and balances in place, you don’t need to worry about a citizen review.

——-

Besides NOT answering my questions or giving me the information I need to put this to rest, board member Mickelson said that I was accusing them of manipulation and it was my duty to provide evidence or proof. Um, maybe I am missing something here, but YOU hold the evidence and Bev Chase refused to give it to us.

It is a sad day in a democracy when the citizens who vote and pay taxes are not allowed to examine the processes of the election. It is even sadder that they couldn’t even answer my questions in a public forum. Petitions get challenged all the time in South Dakota. This doesn’t mean people don’t trust the process, it only means we want to check the process. I find it incredibly hypocritical of Mickelson getting upset over challenging the results of the election when her husband Mark led the charge to overturn the will of the voters on IM 22, claiming it was ‘Unconstitutional’ (even though the Supreme Court didn’t get a chance to review it) and voters were ‘hoodwinked.’ So I guess what Cynthia was telling me is that ONLY the House of Lords in Pierre have the power to challenge and overturn elections, the peasants be damned.

All I saw tonight was a lot of guilt, and ironically the main players in the election (school staff) sat mysteriously quiet while the school board defended them. Cat must of had their tongues.

I would even be comfortable with Bev Chase releasing a public statement telling us the processes they used, who counted the votes, how they were entered into the system and a sampling of how the software worked. They can’t even give us that. Why?! It seems incredibly silly to me to get so angry because we are asking how the election was handled. Is that some kind of top secret information? All we have at this point is a short FB video from Brady Mallory. Why not clear the air?

Through the beginning of the meeting when they were talking about the schools they were going to build, the locations and announcing the architect (Architecture Inc.) it seemed like a forgone conclusion that this would pass.

In the parking lot before the meeting Vernon Brown came up from behind me and said, “85 is my new favorite number.” I laughed and said, “Yeah, 85%.” Then I said, “About time Ellie won something.” Ellie Highstreet who received $21K to consult the Vote Yes campaign was Jim Entenman’s campaign consultant. That in itself should tell us something.

Like I said, it is impossible for me to say whether or not the 85% mark is accurate until we have a chance to audit and examine all the election documentation and processes. Historically in other similar elections in and around Sioux Falls it has never happened. But there is a first time for everything, unfortunately we may never know, because as they inferred many times tonight, “Just trust them, they’re good people.” I do trust people, but I trust the numbers more. Numbers don’t lie.

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.