Entries Tagged 'SF School Board Member' ↓

Over $35k raised for Sioux Falls School Board Race

When I hear things like this, I often shake my head and wonder why we have so much money in a school board race;

According to the four pre-election campaign finance reports filed Monday, so far, school board candidates have raised more than $35,000.

Notable contributions include former mayor Mike Huether and Augustana University president Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin giving to Anthony Pizer, while CEO of First PREMIER Bank Dana Dykhouse gave to both Pizer and Marc Murren.

I find it troubling that a position that pays very little has so much money going towards the race. When it comes to money in races like this, in which probably around 5-10% of qualified voters will even cast a ballot you have to wonder what the donors are trying to buy, especially in a district in which almost half of the students are on FREE or reduced lunches and many are living in poverty. Wouldn’t the $35k be more useful towards the food banks or youth mentorship programs?

The only thing the school board has successfully really accomplished over the past few years is higher taxes. I will admit that we do have a pretty good public school system in Sioux Falls when compared to the rest of the country, but I also think the school board needs to work on efficiency when it comes to how our money is spent.

I hope more people vote, but when you only have ‘voting centers’ in the Southern part of the city, we know how this rolls.

I am glad that many candidates are running, and that is one positive. I still have only endorsed Marc Murren and am still mulling over who my second choice would be.

Marc Murren is the best choice for the Sioux Falls School Board

In full disclosure, I don’t personally know anybody running for school board except the incumbent and I have not communicated by phone or email with any of the candidates.

The election is on May 18th and the Argus put out this handy little Q & A and BIOs.

I like the fact that Murren is a retired educator and coach. He also understands the importance of facing our biggest problems head on with input from our community;

What are the biggest issues you see facing the Sioux Falls School District today?
Murren: Poverty. Poverty creates great inequities for young people.

Nothing against the other people running, I’m sure they are fine folks but I like the life experiences of Murren and think that it is what makes him the most qualified for one of the two seats.

I may change my mind after watching the forum(s) but I think the first choice for school board is pretty cut and dry. Murren seems to realize our challenges, want to fix them, and knows the best way to do that is thru open and transparent governing.

I’m still mulling over who my second vote will go to.

Improper Political Sign Placement

Trust me, I am not going to rail on Mr. Pizer for breaking the rules. In every local election I see the same ignorant mistakes. In this case, not only has Anthony placed his sign on restricted property, he ironically placed it out of the district. And you want to be my latex salesman!

I believe this was either in the Harrisburg or Tea school district

There are some simple rules here;

• Never place signs on public property or in the parking strip commonly known as the boulevard.

• Place your signs in the ACTUAL district you are running in.

• Always check local ordinances on what you can and cannot do.

To tell you the truth, I could give to sh!ts about who is going to replace another rubberstamper on the school board. I just know my property taxes continue to grow and grow and grow, and nobody on that board cares.

Sioux Falls School Board Candidate makes Announcement

Anthony J. Pizer, Candidate for school board sent this announcement out recently;

I am running for school board because I believe in the power of education to transform peoples’ lives as well as our community.

Sioux Falls has a strong public school system that benefits, not only students and families, but our region as a whole. I have seen this firsthand as a Leadership Sioux Falls graduate, Chair of the Sioux Falls Public Schools Education Foundation, and SFSD Boundary Task Force member. For the past ten years, I have been a mentor to the same student with the LSS school-based mentor program. Through this experience, I have seen my mentee grow and develop through all levels of the school district.

My wife, Jessica, and I have two elementary-age children, James and Elyse. They are enrolled in All City Elementary, a Sioux Falls public school that requires parental commitment to volunteering weekly at the school. By spending time in the classroom, I have seen the incredibly talented educators we have in our district and the challenges they face. Therefore, I believe we must support teachers and staff so they can meet the needs and goals of each student.

I run my own business as a Financial Advisor for Thrivent Financial. This has given me a strong understanding of fiscal responsibility and planning to successfully meet financial goals in an efficient and effective manner.

The three areas I believe our district needs to focus on for the future are workforce development, student equity, and community engagement. Because the students of today will work in and lead our community tomorrow, our students and teachers need to have the resources available to meet the needs and goals of the future. Student equity ensures that one’s education, access, and opportunities are not dictated by where they live in Sioux Falls. Finally, our schools and city mutually benefit when community members take an active part in assuring the development of our next generation. I would appreciate your vote on May 18th.

Anthony Pizer
Candidate for Sioux Falls School Board

He lost me at Workforce Development, I want to hear more from him by what he means by that. Whatever happened to giving kids an education that encourages them to go onto to doing whatever they want to after graduation? Whether that is a plumber, soldier, college student, etc.

I am glad he is running though and hope to see more candidates announcing.

Sioux Falls School Board Election set for Tuesday, May 18, 2021

With all the madness this past year with elections we may have forgotten that there is another local one just a couple of months away.

The school board election will be stand alone with 13 vote centers and a strong emphasis on early voting at the IPC. The school board approved the date at the January 11, 2021 meeting in the consent agenda, so there was probably little fanfare. While I don’t take issue much anymore with vote centers, I think they need to make sure that they are fairly spread out in the city unlike during the bond election where I believe there was either only 1-2 precincts North of Russell Ave. I still think this is a form of voter suppression and I asked the ACLU to look into during the school bond election with NO response. They are too busy in Pierre chasing wing-nuts during the annual gathering of paranoid bigots we call our state legislative session (not all of them, just 90%).

School board members Todd Thoelke and Kate Parker terms are up, not sure if they are going to run for re-election, but it sounds like Kate is leaning yes and Todd is leaning maybe. Would like to see someone with a little clout challenge them, especially since Kate has been there since 1953.

Has anybody heard of any names? Maybe we need to recruit Pam Nelson back to the board she got her political start in.

The Sioux Falls School District joins the City’s Hatefest towards open and transparent government

If things couldn’t get any darker at city hall, they are getting a little darker at the School District. They have decided to discontinue media briefings. Yes, I know, the SFSD has been a closed door organization for years, and they seem to be fulfilling more of their goals by ending the briefings. There of course was a lot of Beautiful Sunshine spread around by the district’s communications czar, DeAnn Konrad, but this statement really struck me;

“Media reports, some seen online as early as Sunday when exhibits are posted, have caused confusion and resulted in the work of the board being circumvented,” Konrad said. “It is the district’s intent to responsibly keep its stakeholders informed by allowing the meeting to occur, discussion to happen, with media questions answered after elected officials have voted.”

The whole point of presenting exhibits before a meeting is so the public knows what is being discussed at that meeting. Not only is it the right thing to do, IT’S THE LAW! When Konrad uses the word ‘circumvented’ it reminds of something former school board president Alberty said to another elected official about ‘making decisions privately before the public meeting’ to avoid controversy at the public meetings.

Asking the elected board members questions about an agenda item AFTER a controversial item passes is kind of pointless. Board members should have to explain their votes in advance. I’ve never read such an anti-open government statement in my life, but no surprise coming from Konrad.

I also wonder who has the authority to close out the media? Was this Konrad’s decision? Super Stavem’s decision? Or the Board’s Decision? Since technically the Board is Stavem’s boss, it would be their decision. I wonder if anyone from the School Board will tell us who’s bright idea this was? Oh, that’s right, they don’t have to talk to the media anymore, it gets folks too worked up.

This is also more egregious considering we are in the middle of a pandemic, and if taxpayers and parents needed more help and information from their schools it is right now.

I have noticed for awhile local governments have been using this pandemic as an excuse to further withhold information from us, and the crap needs to end.  

Before posting this, I vowed to several community citizen advocates today, once Covid clears, we are going to engage in a full on war against the HATERS in local government of openness and transparency. It’s time we put out these fires before the whole damn forrest burns down.

Why Did we Give Sioux Falls School District Employees an $800 dollar bonus?

Before everyone calls me a Scrooge, I will say I agree with School Board president Mickelson’s sentiments;

“. . . yet give as much as we can to our staff while they are going through this hard and very difficult time,” Cynthia Mickelson said.

I think if public servants like teachers go the extra mile they deserve a little something more.

But here are my issues with this;

• This is not the private (for profit) sector. The school district is funded by taxpayers. Believe it or not, most, if not all of my friends and family have worked straight thru this pandemic including myself. Many of them have never got a ‘bonus’ including myself for showing up. But the very workers we subsidize with our taxes are handed bonuses for simply showing up and doing their job – just like the rest of us have. I get it, it’s not easy, there are many days I just want to say, ‘Screw it’ this isn’t worth the risk, but I also know we will get thru this, so I soldier on.

• Instead of a bonus, maybe better sick leave and raises would be more appropriate. As I understand it, district employees have a very good sick leave policy.

• Unlike the private sector, school district employees get fantastic benefits, healthcare and PENSIONS! PENSIONS! I know, something that has almost disappeared in the private sector.

• Many school district employees get the entire summer off. Basically they receive 12 months of pay for 9 months of work. I get it, they may work many more hours during that 9 months, but how many of you in the private sector would love to work a few extra hours a week to get 3 months off in the summer? I think I know the answer to that question. Let’s talk about a ‘bonus’!

While I think it is nice gesture to give this bonus, remember, this comes from you and me, not the school board. It is also fair to point out that the more money we give towards wages is less money we are spending on learning materials and capital expenses for EDUCATING STUDENTS!

I think if this community was flush with money, this would be a blip on the radar screen. But while a lot of us in the private sector are struggling, we ask when are we getting our $800 property tax cut?

Why couldn’t this bonus come from the millions of dollars of Federal Corona virus monies instead of handed over to businesses that may or may not trickle it down to their workers?

This bonus was foolish and fiscally irresponsible.

I think a better plan would have been giving the staff that worked through this pandemic full-time a better raise instead of a blanket bonus.

REWARD THE ONES THAT DESERVE IT WITH PERMANENT APPRECIATION IN THEIR PAYCHECKS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR!

I often shake my head when elected officials pat themselves on the back when they are giving our money away. To all the staff that got this bonus, your’e welcome, to the elected officials who got a warm fuzzy feeling for giving my taxes away, you are also welcome.

Sioux Falls School Boundary Decision should be immediate without special accommodations

I have told people that once the boundaries are set it should be implemented like ripping a bandaid off, all at once. There should be only ONE accommodation made, if you are a Junior at one of the High Schools this fall, you should have the opportunity to finish as a Senior at that HS if you choose to. I don’t think any other accommodations should be made. Once we start giving special treatment to one sector (like honors students and Spanish immersion*) others will follow, and the special treatment will continue for years. If you stop it at the beginning, parents will be mad for a year or two, but they will get over it. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be happy about the boundaries, but I’m willing to bet 80-90% of parents will be fine with it. Rip off the bandaid and move on.

*I have thought for awhile that the school district should also start a Mandarin (Chinese) immersion program. China is #1 trading partner, it makes sense to give students the choice to learn either or both languages.

Property Tax Data from Sioux Falls School District

Notice in the 2nd graphic that while mil rate went down for the District, the county and city went up.

City of Sioux Falls Municipal elections prediction update

As someone reminded me yesterday, we were scheduled to have an election next Tuesday. Thank God that didn’t happen as the city is starting to peak in covid cases. But if it would have happened, I still believe Stehly would have won by a landslide. The factors would have been a normal municipal election turnout of your usual 4% or so.

I think those factors have changed, and not sure how this will play out. The biggest thing that has happened was the SOS’s decision to mail everyone a absentee voter application in the mail. You can pick the ballots you want (for instance in SF you could pick city/school & primary). I think this will be hugely popular as you see the numbers of covid cases rise. I’m putting at least a 30-40% voter turnout. I think you will see that many people will like to vote this way, and if anything positive comes from this crisis, it may be pushing for vote by mail, which I think is a great idea. It will increase voter turnout. The critics are on both sides of the aisle, but more heavily from Republicans who have depended on voter suppression for years. This levels the playing field, and it scares them. I’m not sure where their claims of fraud and abuse come from. We have doing absentee by mail for several years in South Dakota, and I think if there was a widespread issue with voter fraud, we would have heard about it already, not just from talking points coming from POTUS’s butt. Remember he claimed millions illegally voted in California in 2016, something that has never been proven.

As you can see from these articles, it is pretty rare and the fines and penalties are steep if you get caught. I don’t think people would be willing to risk it.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a law and policy institute which describes itself as progressive, “The consensus from credible research and investigation is that the rate of illegal voting is extremely rare, and the incidence of certain types of fraud – such as impersonating another voter – is virtually nonexistent.”

I still think Stehly will prevail, especially since both her supporters and Jensen’s will get the same applications in the mail. It will be a matter of who gets their supporters to fill out that application. Time will tell. Another factor is that voters will have more than a few minutes to study the ballot at their kitchen tables and discuss it with friends and do research. I’m not saying everyone will, but I think you will see more reasoned and educated voting by going this route.

This is going to be an interesting experiment in our Democracy. The results will be fascinating to study.