Entries Tagged 'SF School District' ↓

Is it time to end Sioux Falls open enrollment?

One of the more astonishing things to come out of the facilities task force meetings is that the Sioux Falls school district has 1,200 students that don’t live in our district. Those students parents are NOT contributing to our property tax base that helps fund education. That could be millions in extra expenditures to educate out of district students.

I have never been a fan of open enrollment anyway even if your parents pay taxes within the district. If you want your kids to go to a certain school, than you should live in the boundaries of that school. It’s not rocket science.

As some have pointed out from the school district, open enrollment has caused segregation. Not just in diversity or culture but in economic status. All of our schools should have equal amounts of  economic, social and cultural students. I actually think it is better for students to learn about other cultures at an early age, not only can immigrant students learn from natural born students but vice versa. I think it makes for a more well rounded education.

I think while the school district is studying about what kind of facilities they want to build they should consider ending open enrollment, especially allowing students from out of the district to come to school here.

School District proposing $278 Million in school facility upgrades

Nope. That is NOT a typo. Imagine what I thought when this number was floated to me today. I guess the Facilities task force met last night, and this was the number the administration put out there.

Can you imagine if all $278 million was approved what the increase in your property taxes would be each year? My best estimates for homes under $150K would be around $100 and ones valued over $300K would be around $500.


Of course, if this was put to a vote, the entire $278 would never pass, they would really have to scale this back, by AT LEAST $100 million.

But what if it didn’t go to a vote? A 60% threshold for a bond vote would be hard to get, even if that amount was $178 million. There is a rumor going around that the School Board is going to try to avoid a public vote and pass this on their own. There of course would be an almost instantaneous petition drive, and I guarantee the petitioners would get their signatures in a matter of days.

A better approach is to sell the public on a more modest plan that would have voters support, and put it to that vote. I would literally be scared for my wellbeing if I sat on the school board and passed this through without voter approval. The school board has shown an enormous amount of arrogance over the past decade when it comes to tax increases, and this will take the cake if they don’t let the public decide this very expensive improvement.

The next meeting is Wednesday, May 16th from 5:30 to 8 PM at the IPC.  The agenda will include City of Sioux Falls Planning Director Mike Cooper (who is on the task force) presenting population projections, what projects the task force thinks the public will accept and the BIG Question, how to pay for all of this.

The fourth meeting is May 30th, from 5:30-8 PM finalizing the report. They are working with the Donovan Group.

Little to no compromise on school start date

A compromise would have been starting school the last week of August instead of going back to the original start date;

The Sioux Falls School District has been trying out different schedules for the past few years. Now, the district has decided that the 2019-2020 school year will start on August 22nd, 2019.

Most importantly, the committee sent out surveys for people to fill out their input.

A whopping 11,000 parents, students, and staff members filled out the survey.

Administrators say about 60 percent recommended school start before Labor day for the 2019-2020 school year. All three groups: students, parents, and staff, sided with the August start date.

According to survey results, 56 percent of parents, 64 percent of students, and 67 percent of staff wanted school to start prior to Labor Day.

Notice who is missing from that survey? The people who actually fund a majority of our schools, property and sales tax payers who DO NOT have children. Where was their voice? Like the sales tax increase, the concerns fell on deaf ears.

They also brought up the tired old concern about AP tests;

There were a number of factors to consider.

“AP tests -so that we had enough time with the AP tests and those semester classes,” said Nold.

Ironically, AP scores went up the year school started after labor day. It has never made sense to me to start school when it is still nice out and two weeks before a major national holiday. When I went to school we always started after labor day due to the state fair, 4-H involvement and harvest season and other summer activities. It comes down to a select group of people (the school board) telling the rest of us working stiffs that they are smartest kids in the room and be damn the public’s opinion.

Is the School Board moving towards NOT ALLOWING the public to vote on a new school(s) bond opt-out?

I have heard Superintendent Maher say several times that he would like the community to vote on a new school bond opt-out, but it seems the school board has a different perspective, at least two of them do.

When asked in a candidate forum tonight, the two incumbents and the 3rd candidate didn’t see it necessary to vote on it. This is troublesome. I have a feeling the bond is going to be well over $100 million, and if they won’t allow the public to vote on it, it will set a very bad precedent. We already allowed a $117 million dollar bond pass on the Denty in a non-legally binding advisory vote, essentially allowing the city council approve the bond.

What they said;

Todd Thoelke said he thinks the school board passing opt outs on their own creates opportunities. He feels the school board members are responsible enough to pass them without a vote.

Kate Parker also doesn’t think a public vote is necessary because the school district holds open houses and has public input at school board meetings.

Peter Pischke agreed with Todd Thoelke

Sorry folks, an opinion by a handful of people at an open house isn’t enough reason to raise taxes over $100 million dollars on thousands of hardworking and retired Sioux Falls residents. We must have a public vote on the new school opt-out.

With School Bond issue on the horizon, it’s time to end TIF’s

Let’s face it, with the Sioux Falls School District telling us that it is inevitable they will need to build new schools (though I would rather they spend the money on giving parents FREE birth control) that means our property taxes in Sioux Falls will be going up, ALOT!

I think it is time to either put a moratorium or to eliminate TIFs all together. Developers in this town need to start paying their fair share. With over $700 million in building permits last year, it is obvious that developers and investors don’t need a handout or rebate on taxes to develop, if anything all this massive growth is hurting us, with little payback to the city, county and school district coffers.

It is time WE ALL paid into supporting public education, and that means killing large, unnecessary TIFs once and for all.

Let students walk out, it’s a great civic lesson

I see all these schools who want to have a hugs and kisses program in the school gymnasium tomorrow. Wrong approach.

When I went to HS in a large suburb of Seattle in the late 80’s we had several walkouts. The teachers and administrators didn’t stop us. They let us have our protest, and we returned to classes. In fact, almost once a month they would have an 8th period day. They would shorten all the other 7 periods so we could have around a 20 minute period in the morning to interact with other students and discuss student body issues in the commons area.

Letting kids protest by walking out is a great civic lesson in protesting our government. And they should be protesting school gun violence, it is a worthy cause.

So let them walk out, it’s a great lesson in civic engagement something I think is missing in our school curriculum these days.

Peter Pischke Essay – Candidate for Sioux Falls School Board

I am blessed to live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The people of this town are kind, generous, and generally good folks to live with. We treat each other with decency, respect, and live by the Golden Rule.
So it is no surprise to me that the citizens I talk to almost all voice a grave concern towards our local government and school board.
Just like you, they are worried with the direction Sioux Falls have been heading. The corruption, complacency, and shenanigans taking place in our city government of late should worry anyone.
Some Problems
The School-board unfortunately mirrors the concern that is felt at the larger levels of local government. The meetings go quickly with little explanation given and less opportunity for public input. 
I was late getting to the SF School-Board meeting last week. I arrived less than 5 minutes late. Yet by the time I got there the period for public input was over. 
And while it is well and good that we give students the opportunity to learn skills for the workplace, we shouldn’t forget the primary reason for school: learning to think, read, write, and make rational empiric arguments. In essence, our School should be teaching our kids to live the principles of the Enlightenment:
The ability to reason using the scientific method (empiricism), Skepticism, Individualism, and self discipline. These principles give us and our kids the passion for learning that we all like to talk about having. 
Yet look at how our schools are fairing at something as simple as literacy. For years now our students fall behind the state when it comes to reading as a recent report on the Literacy in Action (LIA) program to the SF School Board Shows:
In 2017 only 44.6% of third grade students passed the English Language Arts Assessment (ELA). This is poor event against the state of South Dakota’s 47.8%.
The multi year for 2017 is a little better at 52.36%. Yet that still puts us far below any reasonable score a Sioux Falls citizen might have their children.
Lastly I’d like to point out something obvious that those in charge seem to be ignoring: the increasing rates of suicide among teenagers. During my sister’s senior year at least 2 of her classmates that she knew by name, committed suicide. And unfortunately there have been lots more since.
We have all read the news headlines this last year of mass shootings at high schools by current or former students. Just this morning a college student at South Dakota State University got arrested for threatening to commit mass murder at the home of the Jacks. http://www.ksfy.com/content/news/Man-accused-of-making-terrorist-threat-at-South-Dakota-State-University-475822023.html
While everyone wants to focus on guns I think we are ignoring what is feeding this problem: the extremely poor mental and emotional health of our kids at public school.
I know from very personal experience how harsh kids can be to each-other and how horrible you can feel. We all know this is a big problem, yet few people offer any solutions.
If we want these shootings and suicides to stop we must help our students who struggle with mental and emotional illness.
My Proposed Solutions
1.To fix our school board meetings I hope to modernize the meetings by live streaming them concurrently online with the physical meetings and increase opportunities throughout the meetings for multiple opportunities for public input.
 I also would like our school board to better explain what is going on during the steps of the meeting, and not rush through the vote procedures.
2. I want more work done in our schools to help those students who are bullied or are bullies themselves. I want students to get the real help they need if they are suffering from emotional or mental illness.
Teachers (and some administrators) must be allowed to report concerns with their students. They should write down and report on any negative behaviors they are noticing. This shouldn’t be done to punish anyone but to get them the necessary counseling and if needed: medical help.
It is impossible to learn at school if you dread being at school. You’re passion for learning won’t alight if you feel unsafe, or unwelcome at class.
3. I also want classes at the High School level to be recorded and made available to students online so they can review past lectures and get caught up if they were sick and couldn’t make it to school.
We should use the power of the internet to enable the very best of learning. Remove any and all barriers to teachers and innovating students to use the internet to enhance the learning experience. 
Now a little about me:
I’m 28, physically disabled due to Chronic Pancreatitis. I’m also a graduate student working on my Masters in Journalism from SDSU.
This election run is actually the basis for my Masters Project (I’m writing a series of articles about what it is like to run for public office, especially as someone with physical limitations)
While you and I may disagree on policy at the national level, I think you will find that we both want the same thing for the Sioux Falls School Board: honesty, efficacy, a strong code of ethics. Men and Women who keep their word and do what they say. 
With me you have that commitment. And that promise.
By my Sacred Honor, if you elect me I will do my very best to make our school board reflect those principles and values that honest citizens of Sioux Falls share no matter their background or political stripes.
Thank you for your time, and thank you for your vote,
God Bless America, and God Bless Sioux Falls,
– Peter Vaughn Pischke

Thoelke thinks the rubberstamp school board works fine as is

If it was coming from anyone but Todd, I would take this as a threat;

Thoelke also wants to keep the current school board intact.

“I feel like the five of us are cohesive … I don’t know that it’s time for a new person to dive in there,” he said.

Wow. That’s some good encouragement for the democratic process.

‘Please, don’t bother running because you would just over turn the apple cart if you won.’

First off, Mickelson is fairly new, and secondly I’m not sure that Parker is running again. Either way, I think NOW is the perfect time for new blood. I think the School Board has become a group of elitists, this of course wasn’t by accident. We saw this by how the last school board election was conducted (super precincts with none in the entire North side of the city) and Mickelson spending $6 a vote.

With the possibility of one of the largest opt-outs in the school district’s history coming this year or early 2019, NOW is the time to get some debate and discussion between school board members when it comes to property taxes and building new schools.

A rubberstamp school board will certainly not take the stand needed to balance property tax fairness with properly funding public education. I have contended all along that the district could pay for bonds out of their current budget but that would mean cutting some fat, and I’m not talking about teachers or support staff, I’m talking about at the top.

There is a School Board Election this Spring also

The Sioux Falls school district is teaming up with the April 10, 2018 municipal election. There are two seats up for grabs on the school board. They are currently held by Todd Thoelke and Kate Parker. Not sure what either plans are for re-election, but I have heard Parker may NOT run again.

So if it becomes an open seat, how money will be spent this time? $25,000? $50,000? Just to win a seat that pays $75 per meeting. As my friend’s son would say, ‘Diculous!’

South DaCola Podcast 11: Year in Review

We give a go at what has happened in the past year in the city, state and country. Listen HERE.

Here is the official list;

SD Supreme Court rules against the city of Sioux Falls in Events Center siding settlement. City moves forward with an independent siding review.

SD State legislature repeals IM22

EB-5 and Gear Up scandals get buried

A majority of the Lincoln County Commission and Lincoln County voters vote down wind power

Badlands Pawn and Speedway close, blame Rate Cap vote

OSHA levies $200K in fines as the Feds conduct a criminal investigation. City approves a $50 million dollar partnership with the very people involved with investigation

Mayor helps to kill districting the parks board AND recording the meetings

City gifts (some) land to the Glory House

SD Legislator Wollman resigns over sex allegations, Gene Abdallah tells accuser to ‘Go to Hell’ – Pierre becomes the sexual harassment capital of South Dakota

REMSA uses secret ambulance codes – says public and elected officials are too dumb to understand

Sioux Falls School District/Board uses slanted survey as excuse to change school start date

Long time city planner Steve Metli passes – local media treats his legacy like he built the Great Wall of China

Judge Pekas orders a McKennan Park house be torn down, moved or fixed – SD Supreme Court has reviewed ruling, we are awaiting a verdict

Mayor Huether uses taxpayer money to figure out who is behind the fake mayoral twitter account, he is unsuccessful

Cynthia Mickelson spends over $6 a vote to be elected to SF school board setting a record for money raised ($20K). School district limits voting and has NO northern precincts

Mayor and council deny SFPD back pay

Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin becomes president of Augustana University

Uptown II Project (Cascades) gets approved by city council with a TIF, 12 years after first proposed

SF Thrive Report states the obvious – low wages and lack of higher learning are contributing to the need for affordable housing

Annexation Task Force switches gears on annexing islands, islands ironically created by over annexation of land and urban sprawl over the past 7 years

Sales Tax revenue continues to be down in SF

SFFD Chief retires, gets charged with possessing child porn, gets to keep city pension. Court date pending.

Rental registry inspections FAILS, city council votes down proposal

Flopdation Park finally gets first tenant, Ice Cream warehouse

Pavilion appoints a Youth pastor cartoonist as director of Visual Arts and Science Center. Longtime Operations manager resigns.

Patrick Lalley replaces Knobe on KSOO

SF School district approves $50 million opt-out with little public input. Petition drive for repeal fails

KELO TV reporter Perry Groton grows new hair

Hats still banned during public input at Carnegie Town Hall, bandanas are allowed

Annette Bosworth’s perjury charges are dropped – medical board still pursues taking her license away

Snubbed landowner in SF puts up FUSF sign

Garth Brooks takes $7 million out of local economy

ARC of Dreams changes design, cost goes up to $1.6 million and the mayor approved temporary easement without telling the city council or public

Longtime city politician, Bob Jamison passes away

Former School Board President Doug Morrison gets 6-figure job with district, he’s charged with eliminating wasteful spending

Eight Candidates are running for Mayor of SF in 2018

Sioux Falls Little League makes it to the World Series, loses all of their games

SF School district admits open enrollment has caused segregation of classes, still waiting for a solution

South DaCola announces sister website search engine, sfmeetings.org

SF city councilors Rolfing and Erpenbach convince council and mayor to change council races from a plurality to a majority

Right on Red signs are removed – bike community freaks

Sister City Potsdam Mayor visits SF – breaks city ordinance and smokes a cigarette in a park at German Fest

SF Parks Director Don Kearney lies about NO mowing lists – never apologizes to public or media

Midco Aquatic Center celebrates 1st anniversary, has a $400k operating deficit, attendance down

SF City attorney leaves before the Huether ship sinks

City golf course RFP secrecy causes issues with equipment transfer

LYFT comes to Sioux Falls, deal struck in secrecy

Pavilion contract renewed without a city audit in 12 years