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.

WOW!

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.



11 comments ↓

#1 D@ily Spin on 05.01.18 at 7:39 pm

Schools need more funding. Maybe not this much. Are teacher salary increases coming? Brandon or Canton sound good when we get taxed out of Sioux Falls. They’re more publicly controlled and get to vote on such things. I’m convinced there’s no way to stop political criminals in Sioux Falls. It’s become Chicago, the most corrupt indebted city in the nation.

#2 Fluff McFluffin on 05.01.18 at 8:19 pm

Improvement? Isn’t this needed to build the new schools this city needs? Roosevelt is literally about to burst at the seams. What would you suggest? A new high school isn’t cheap but is needed. Desperately needed.

#3 l3wis on 05.01.18 at 8:32 pm

I would suggest people start using birth control.

#4 The Guy from Guernsey on 05.02.18 at 7:26 am

l3wis, good advice. But, you are about 15 years too late with that as a solution. As Fluff indicated, the public high schools are jam-packed and overfull. Now.
This was issue with which Homan should have dealt. This issue did not just emerge when Brian Maher became Superintendent. Unfortunately, the vision in Homan’s “visionary leadership” was rather limited to her immediate family. Truth: for the reason I just stated (and many others), she did not have the political capital to lead an effort to expand school facilities.

#5 anonymous on 05.02.18 at 4:51 pm

There are currently 1,200 students from districts outside of Sioux Falls open-enrolled INTO the Sioux Falls School District. (source: School Board Member)

This needs to be looked at closely in terms of what pressure it puts on the SFSD’s physical facilities because this is what the conversation is all about.

#6 l3wis on 05.02.18 at 9:37 pm

What!!!!!???

We need to eliminate open enrollment. It has created segregation inside SF school district boundaries and as you have pointed out, my taxes are paying for an education of kids that have parents that don’t pay property taxes here. End open enrollment, than reassess the situation.

BTW, historically, who was the clown that came up with open enrollment? Was it Homan? Just curious.

#7 scott on 05.02.18 at 9:57 pm

how are we going to stack sports teams if not for open enrollment?

#8 Warren Phear on 05.03.18 at 6:30 am

Posts 5, 6, and 7 nail it. Thank you. Exactly why I visit this site each and every morning.

#9 Katrina on 05.03.18 at 11:24 am

Hi Scott – I wanted to reply to this since I am a member of the SFPS’s Facilities Task Force.

First of all, as you said – $278M is a LOT of money. This is precisely why the school board has convened a group of community members, like me, to look at the facilities needs of our school system in its entirety and recommend a plan to the school board that attempts to balance both the needs of the schools with the best interests of the taxpayer.

The school system has many facility needs now – from buildings needing upgrades to buildings that – as someone stated above – are “bursting at the seams”.

It is important for the task force to understand the bird’s eye view of the needs of the school district as a starting point – which is where this initial $278M comes from. It is essentially a kitchen sink list of that holistic picture.

A solution to the school district’s needs isn’t going to be cheap, and prioritizing these needs isn’t easy. The Task Force is comprised of a diverse, engaged, responsible group of citizens who aren’t afraid to ask hard questions that challenge the administration.

One important point I wanted to make, is that whatever dollar amount and plan is recommended to the school board – this issue will definitely go to a public vote, which requires a 60% approval by voters. General Bond issue votes are mandated by state law.

If you’d love to talk one-on-one with me about this, I’d love to chat! You know how to get a hold of me.

#10 l3wis on 05.03.18 at 11:43 am

Kat, I have no worries about the task force, I’m just not sure I can trust the administration and the numbers game. Reminds me of the old bait and switch energy companies play with the PUC when they want a rate increase. They always throw a ridiculous number at them knowing they will get it reduced to what they actually want.

#11 anonymous on 05.03.18 at 4:18 pm

Question for Katrina:

At the second meeting of the task force, the Administration definitely interjected the word “possible” when referring to a public vote.

This contradicts your post which says that state law mandates a public vote.

Obviously, the administration of the SFSD has clarified with their attorneys that there is a loophole available to avoid a public vote.