UPDATE: Sioux Falls School Board has questionable Executive Session

The school board met at 2 PM today (video above) to discuss the Envision Task Force Draft report. The meeting was posted as a 2 PM start meeting, but when people arrived they noticed the agenda changed to a 1:45 PM Executive Session before the meeting started.

First off, most of the time Executive Sessions are at the end of meetings not at the beginning. Secondly they have to state SDCL that it is an executive session, that is 1-25-2(2);

Executive or closed meetings–Purposes–Authorization–Violation as misdemeanor.

As you can see, besides stating SDCL numbers they must tell the public on the agenda the ‘purpose’ of the session. While they don’t have to state what/who will be discussed, that is the whole purpose of an executive session, they must say the topic or purpose. For example, pending litigation, student issue or personnel issue. They did not state the topic and took no action in open. This could be a possible open meetings violation.

Once the 2 PM meeting started they went straight into the draft report. Some interesting things occurred.

At 32:30 a member of the public, Michael Wyland asked where the document was that outlines the 30 member TF’s individual priorities and how the ranking was done. No one produced the document.

Other things that were stated was 70% of the people who will vote on the bond issue DO NOT have children in the school district.

TF Chair Vernon Brown bragged about the how nice it was only a $2 a month tax increase. This hasn’t been fully explained yet either how that will compound over the 10-25 year loan span except that there may be a lower capital outlay levee promised to offset that tax increase. No idea what that will be either except that they will model it after the 1997 school bond.

Super Maher stated that while staff can share FACTS about the bond issue they cannot encourage people to vote for or against the bond. This is questionable because they haven’t been sharing all of the FACTS so far, so I have a feeling the FACTS they do share will be cherry picked.

He also went on to say there is a private community group interested in promoting the passage of the bonds but wouldn’t say who it was. My guess it is probably involved with the Chamber, but not sure.

Finally, Maher said that while the $190 million will be for the construction of 3 schools, $40 million of that is for ‘TLC’ of existing schools.

UPDATE: I guess the School District’s Financial Director, Todd Vik mentioned that they would try to use super precincts in the proposed September 18th election. I missed that, but a reader pointed it out to me. I’m still researching whether they can do that in reference to Federal Law and disenfranchising voters.

I’m getting very nervous about how they are going to sell this to the community. Like I said, I support public education, we need new schools, I get it. Where I get troubled about the proposal is the details of what the money will be spent on and the lack of documents from the TF supporting why we need to do this.

This proposal will be doomed if they don’t start sharing ALL of the information with the public. Government works best when it is open and transparent, this proposal is already on shaky ground.


#1 "Very Stable Genius" on 06.06.18 at 10:40 pm

The best way to fight the “Super Precinct” idea would be in federal court. Someone just needs to file an injunction on the grounds, that the manner on which they plan to hold the election places too much of a undue burden, and thus disenfranchisement, upon too many voters, and that the “Super Precincts” purposively favor certain neighborhoods over others, in order to effect a given outcome. Not to mention, that there is already a precinct voting system in place which could handily facilitate this election also, and in a more democratic manner…

#2 i12doit on 06.07.18 at 6:36 am

Who do some people sleep with, isn’t prostitution illegal in South Dakota?

#3 l3wis on 06.07.18 at 8:35 am

VSG, exactly what we were thinking. After the 2017 stand alone election where they didn’t setup precincts in the entire North side of the city, we are not going to let that happen again. But we have a laundry list of other ‘issues’ with this bond.

i12doit, funny, I know exactly what you are talking about.

#4 Michael L. Wyland on 06.07.18 at 9:22 am

“At 32:30 a member of the public, Michael Wyland asked where the document was that outlines the 30 member TF’s individual priorities and how the ranking was done. No one produced the document.”

I never asked for a document.

Actually, I asked how the ranked list was developed and who participated in the ranking. I also noted that a new high school wasn’t included in the 14 (actually 13 – there was a formatting error omitting the lowest-ranked option) items listed.

The panels at the table (task force reps, consultant, and school board members) provided the clarification I asked for. They explained that the new construction was addressed in the main body of the report; the addendum was specifically for ranking other items the task force considered and would typically be part of the capital outlay budget – repairs & maintenance, existing school facility expansion, land acquisition. After their explanaition, I thanked them for their clarification.

#5 Michael L. Wyland on 06.07.18 at 9:47 am

Further to my earlier post: I never intended to ask for individual responses, and I believed the panel understood that when they replied that the rankings were done by the task force members as opposed to another group of individuals.

The printed report was distributed only once the presentation started, so I was skimming the report as fast as I could while trying to keep track of the verbal presentation.

Following the verbal presentation was made more difficult because there was no audio amplification in the room – the mics were for the broadcast only. Some members spoke softly, while others projected their voices clearly. The panel was seated at tables in a triangular configuration, with several panel members sitting with their backs to the audience, making hearing those members even more difficult.

My question was precisely that – a question based in my own confusion – not a demand or a statement of position on any issue.

#6 D@ily Spin on 06.07.18 at 10:16 am

With so much irregularity and open meeting violations maybe this is no longer a School Board Meeting. It seems to have become a Mafia Sit Down.

#7 l3wis on 06.07.18 at 10:28 am

MW- Thank you for clarifying, I listened to you ask the question twice and was confused. There does though seem to be a lot of missing information in the documents online and what was handed out.

#8 ? on 06.07.18 at 2:56 pm

Perhaps Sumption and Wyland are interested in the PR consult for the bond referendum.

If I remember correctly, Margaret Sumption made $123,000 for managing the PR for the Spellerberg vote.

Quite lucrative.

#9 Michael L. Wyland on 06.08.18 at 8:13 am

? – Margaret Sumption was a volunteer co-chair of the group advocating against the outdoor-only pool at Spellerberg. Not only did she receive *no* compensation for her efforts, she was a donor – of cash as well as time – to the effort.

#10 Hmm on 06.09.18 at 10:00 am

Sumption revealed in an on-air interview the dollar amount she received for her efforts in the Spellerberg vote.