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.



12 comments ↓

#1 hornguy on 05.03.18 at 5:56 pm

First you said “If you want your kids to go to a certain school, than you should live in the boundaries of that school.”

But then you said “All of our schools should have equal amounts of economic, social and cultural students.”

Those are inherently contradictory statements, since individuals in the housing market tend to segregate themselves primarily by educational attainment but secondarily by income. The only way to accomplish your latter goal would be to move some kids outside their neighborhood schools. And most of the kids getting moved would have to be minority students, which would be a sticky matter.

Also, open enrollment in South Dakota is mandatory. Districts must submit acceptance standards to the state, and the only grounds to reject an applicant is if there’s insufficient capacity (be it a physical limitation like enrollment or a staffing limitation). SFSD doesn’t have the ability to end inter-district open enrollment by fiat.

#2 task force on 05.03.18 at 6:22 pm

Interesting that they have now chosen to delay a community-wide survey:

Early in the process, the District mentioned a community-wide survey would be launched May 1. As discussions continue, it has been determined that it would be in the best interest of the community to delay the survey until the Task Force has gotten deeper into its work.

#3 D@ily Spin on 05.03.18 at 6:54 pm

It seems simple to me. You go to school where you live but every public school should have the same quality of education. Open enrollment has added political complexity. Rush hours have children being shuttled about extra hours so they’re exhausted before they get to school and after when they could be doing homework and resting for the next day.

#4 "Very Stable Genius" on 05.03.18 at 7:13 pm

Janklow started open enrollment in the 1990s to encourage consolidation of small school districts. But I am afraid instead it has become nothing but a free agency means for high school athletes.

#5 Warren Phear on 05.03.18 at 9:18 pm

Diversity in SF schools? Lets discuss it. SF has three public high schools. Roosevelt has 25% of its students who are non white. 33% of all their students get free or reduced lunch meals. Lincoln has 26% of its students who are non white. They also have 33% of all students getting free or reduced lunch meals. Washington has 36% of its students who are non white. 43% of all their students are on free or reduced lunch meals. These numbers are from the 2015 school year. Recent reports suggest that nearly 50% of SF school kids are eligible for free or reduced meals, so the 2015 numbers I show are likely on the low end. I have looked at the school district boundaries. The reason all three schools show about the same number of non whites per school is each school from their physical location dip into the citys core. (Inside the interstate beltway system)

So… now they want to build a high school literally right next door to the busiest airport runway in the state. Noise pollution will be the very loudest in the state, right here, right where they want to put this school. Makes zero sense. This location will also assure nearly all the non whites, and nearly all the free meal kids will be right here, in one convenient spot.

As a side note. Sioux Falls Christian has 2% of its enrollees who are non white. My guess is 0% are on free or reduced meals. Just stuff to think about.

#6 Lurker on 05.04.18 at 8:12 am

You mention the 1200 students that open enroll INTO Sioux Falls schools, where their parents are presumably paying no property tax to the school district.

What about Sioux Falls kids that are open enrolled OUTSIDE of Sioux Falls (to say Harrisburg, Tea, Brandon, etc.)? Those property tax dollars are staying with the Sioux Falls school district and the associated families are NOT getting any benefit from them.

Likewise for SF families that choose to send their kids to private school. Same situation — those property tax dollars are going directly to the school district and the families are receiving NO benefits.

Placing blame squarely on 1200 students from outside SF is short-sighted.

#7 Rufusx on 05.04.18 at 9:22 am

You say,” Those students parents are NOT contributing to our property tax base that helps fund education.”

That’s not how it works. The state per capita funding (collected from property taxes) FOLLOWS THE STUDENT when they open enroll to a different district. I.E. the parents pay property taxes i n some other district – which $$ the LEAVES that district and heads to SF along with their kid.

#8 l3wis on 05.04.18 at 9:39 am

Ruf and others, thanks for clearing that up, wondered how that worked. I often wondered if the SF school district should just take over Harrisburg, Tea, Brandon, Canton and West Central and just bring it all into one.

#9 Michael Wyland on 05.04.18 at 9:59 am

Currently and historically, public school district consolidation in SD is voluntary, not compulsory. One district can’t launch a hostile takeover of another. The state has offered financial incentives to small districts to enter into and finalize a consolidation process, but any state efforts to mandate consolidation have run into a brick wall for at least two reasons.

First, town pride and the accompanying fear that lack of a town-identified school will hurt the town economically as well as in terms of reputation and morale.

Second, if the state can arbitrarily change school district boundaries, bonding authorities have less confidence in the school district tax base that guarantees repayment of investment by bondholders. At the least, this makes bonds more expensive to issue. At worst, it closes the bond market to public school districts seen to be most vulnerable to involuntary annexation/consolidation.

Your open enrollment question and district boundaries questions do bring up an important element in the school district new high school evaluation process. What matters is *not* the population growth of Sioux Falls or the four-county metropolitan area, but the population growth of the school-age population within the Sioux Falls School District. More specifically, the growth in that population likely to attend Sioux Falls’ public schools.

#10 anonymous on 05.04.18 at 3:48 pm

The Facilities Task Force is evaluating the pressure that is currently being placed on Sioux Falls School District BUILDINGS. Example: Roosevelt High School was designed to serve 1,800 students. There are currently 2,300 students attending RHS.

Having 1,200 students open-enrolled into the SFSD from other districts is part of what is putting pressure on Sioux Falls public schools.

#11 Mike H. on 05.05.18 at 10:10 am

Simple solution…..Sioux Falls School District should annex Tea and Harrisburg and make it one large school district. What could go wrong?

#12 "Very Stable Genius" on 05.05.18 at 8:13 pm

Could someone please explain to me what “Workforce Development” is? It sounds rather Marxian to me….. Or, is it when a person wears a lot of khaki?….. Well, any how, I would love to be enlightened on this matter. And how would open enrollment affect such ‘Development?’ Because it seems to me, that as long as things are ‘Open,’ then it would be hard to channel the ‘Workforce,’ and if you can’t channel them, then what?….. Oh, and whatever happen to on-the-job training, I think we need to be a little more ‘Open’ about that before we can ‘Develop’ any new ideas with total honesty…..

Deepest Thoughts, by Jack Handey’s cousin