Would be nice to hear some chatter like this in Sioux Falls;

When the billionaire T. Denny Sanford meted out cash, his philanthropy often begot physical tributes. Hospitals plastered his name on emergency rooms and nursing homes; bronze statues were erected in his likeness. In the case of National University in San Diego, the school’s chancellor reportedly displayed a cardboard cutout of Sanford following a $350 million pledge in 2019. The university agreed to name itself after him, too.

Now, following reports that Sanford has been investigated for possible possession of child pornography, some National students are calling for distance.

“They should just give the money back,” said Perry Craz, who is pursuing a master’s degree in special education and teaching. “I don’t see any benefit by having Sanford’s name put on the top of the ticket.”

If, and that’s a big if, Sanford gets indicted on any charges and convicted (I’m not holding my breath) Sioux Falls would become the laughing stock of the Midwest for all the money we sucked out of him. It reminds of the scene in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ where George sees the name of the town as ‘Pottersville’ or should we say ‘Sanfordville’.

FF this video to 30:00

After watching this presentation on school funding, I came away even more confused. The comparison to funding on what is spent per student, and showing the average salaries of teachers while avoiding what we pay administrators actually muddies the waters even more. I’m not sure who is showing us the actual numbers – maybe both are wrong.

Maybe some of my readers can make sense of it, because it was all Greek to me.

In a quick search today I found that school principal pay in South Dakota ranks 25th in the nation. Administrators as a whole we rank around 39th (this is support and office staff). They danced around these numbers in the above presentation. I’m not sure why it is so difficult to just show what the SFSD is paying administrators, compare it to statewide statistics and national statistics. It’s similar to when I have tried to find the total SFSD debt. I ran in circles for about an hour and eventually gave up.

On a more positive note, this bill is currently going through the state legislature;

House Bill 1177 moves to the House floor of the South Dakota Legislature today.  

The bill would move school board elections to the November general election ballot.

Finally some common sense in Pierre. I fully support this, and I think municipal elections should also be held at the same time. The biggest beef I have had with school elections is that they seem to be organized around voter suppression. Often held by themselves with questionable super precinct locations and hand counted by district employees. I hope this bill passes.

While funding of education, my ever rising property taxes, the disparity in teacher pay to administrator pay and voter suppression are concerns I have, my biggest concern when it comes to the SFSD is the lack of openness and transparency, it is the core rot that leads to my mistrust of the district.

Not only would PRE-K education save families millions in daycare it would also better prepare young students for K-12. One of the complaints I have heard from kindergarten and even 1st grade teachers in Sioux Falls is they spend half their time teaching life skills (like wiping kids behinds) that the parents ‘should have’ thought these kids before enrolling them in regular school. All the other arguments aside, I had to laugh about the ‘socialist’ agenda argument.

In case you haven’t noticed our fore fathers based our Republic on a socialist platform. Besides regular public education (K-12) being a socialist program, the US Military is one of the biggest socialist programs we have. Add to that the interstate highway system, the VA, Social Security, Medicare, SNAP, Public Libraries and even locally snow removal and our parks system, the list goes on. We all pay taxes to promote the social welfare of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority, I know that is hard to swallow, but that’s socialism folks.

I had to laugh when recently I heard a local radio host say he was shocked about openly Socialist lawmakers in Washington like Bernie Sanders. Those lawmakers get it, we have been a socialist democracy since almost day one. This is not something NEW that would be ‘snuck’ in on Pre-K education. Let’s admit it, most lawmakers in Pierre hate public education, that’s why they try to starve it every year. They believe only the wealthy deserve to be educated. These same lawmakers also don’t want an educated work force, because they will demand higher pay. We are only shooting ourselves in the foot when we refuse to fund these programs, it hurts the state economically. Who knew that our ‘socialism’ actually benefits our ‘capitalism’.

So the School District couldn’t say a damn thing at Monday night’s board meeting, but seem to sing like a canary once the cameras are off. They are proposing to run the election, in which we will be asked to bond well over $300 million dollars, using super precincts or vote centers.

While I am not a fan of vote centers, they CAN work if you work them correctly. Unfortunately, this is NOT the scenario we want. Why?

First, the obvious. This is a lot of money. We should open this election to the entire community at ALL precincts and we should put it in with the general election. Having a special election in the middle of September with only a handful of precincts guarantees a very low voter turnout. The school district argues they must have their levees and budget set by September 30. Poppycock, they can amend the budget and levees at any time and have admitted this already on KSOO and in the Argus Leader.

Second, Bev Chase with the School District, who will be running this election, has a terrible record on running elections. They should be contracting with the county to handle this. Last time she ran a stand alone election in 2017 there was a myriad of problems, absentee voting was locked up when she was on lunch break, many people who voted were not reported to the SOS data base that they voted in the election (I have had at least 3 voters tell me this), there were NO precincts in the entire northern part of the city.

Third, we have no idea what kind of E-Poll book they will be using and who will be running the software. This could open the election up to tampering, hacking, and voter fraud. If the software does not work correctly, people could vote multiple times at multiple precincts. Hart Interactive who originally created the hardware and software for E-Poll books no longer supports them. BPro tried to get them to work in the primaries and failed so miserably that the SOS said she will not allow their use in the General. So what tricks does the School District have up their sleeve?

Who will tabulate the votes? A hand count isn’t going to cut it. This needs to be tabulated and data needs to be generated so the SOS knows who voted. This is a large sum of money that will increase our taxes over the next 25-30 years, this isn’t electing some yahoo to the school board.

We have made the local chapter of the ACLU aware of these issues, some may be a violation of Federal Election laws, hopefully they will look into it.