Entries Tagged 'SF School District' ↓

Mayor TenHaken says FREE youth ridership is part of Sioux Falls ONE initiative

I guess I was a little surprised to hear that the program was a part of Sioux Falls ONE, an initiative that I still have trouble understanding its mission. This program came about because of years of advocacy from former transit board members, a successful program in Rapid City and the work of former school board President Cynthia Mickelson and councilor Curt Soehl. While I do appreciate the presser and the celebration of a wonderful program it kind of sounds like someone is spiking the football after the rest of the team has already hit the locker room.

Sioux Falls School District locks up publicly owned field in Whittier neighborhood

Both gates on this track and field are locked.

I have heard the excuses already, everything from dog poop to the homeless encampment on the East side of the park. With all the challenges this neighborhood has, why on earth would the school district lock up a public space kids could be playing in? Guess what, all the parks throughout the city have issues with trash, dog poop, etc. Guess what the city does? They clean it up and move on, this is why we collectively pay taxes for public services. Closing green space in a vulnerable neighborhood for kids makes little sense. Taxpayers own this recreational property, take the damn locks off.

Sioux Falls School District introduces school uniforms for challenged students

I guess I don’t know a lot about the effectiveness of requiring school uniforms, but several studies out there including this one, don’t show they help much;

In general, students in schools that required school uniforms did not demonstrate better social skills, internalizing and externalizing behavior, or school attendance as compared with students in schools without school uniforms. These associations were true across both public and private schools. 

I’m sure there are hundreds of studies showing both sides of the coin, but the bigger issue is how the SFSD left the parents in the dark when making this decision;

Peters said she doesn’t agree with the way administration doled out information about the major changes coming to Axtell this school year in meetings held at the school Aug. 2 and Aug. 9.

“Removing the programs built to support our students, restructuring the school and intentionally hiding from the parents and students in my opinion is shameful,” she said. “We are supposed to be a team. This is not how a team works. Ultimately, our children suffer when there are breakdowns of this proportion.”

It kind of seems like this is an authoritarian move instead of something that would actually be beneficial to the students;

“We believe all students deserve the best opportunities,” Konrad said in a statement. “Regular attendance, positive behavior and self-image, and a strong focus on academic success are critical factors for the students who participate in the behavior programs at Axtell Park, now and in the future.”

So shouldn’t this policy be implemented district wide? Why single out lower income or challenged students? I have long heard from teachers across the district (from elementary school to high school, to lower income to middle income schools) that there are major discrepancies on programming and funding depending on what school it is. Maybe uniforms are NOT the issue? Maybe it is staffing, programming and funding?

O’GORMAN SETS A POLICY OF DISCRIMINATION TOWARDS TRANSGENDER STUDENTS

While private schools are a ‘choice’ I wonder how many parents that send their kids to Catholic Schools will be keen on this policy;

The policy states that students cannot “advocate, celebrate, or express” either same-sex attraction or “transgenderism” in a way that would “cause confusion or distraction in the context of Catholic school classes, activities, or events.” It also says that teachers or staff cannot refer to a student by a pronoun that corresponds with the opposite sex.

While the SFSD did say they made their decision on uniforms based on committee recommendations, kind of sounds like SFCS decision was based on what the Bishop thinks. You get what you pay for.

While I don’t have a dog in the fight since I have no kids, I do fund the public schools, and it seems over the past couple of years there has been a push to turn our schools into a fascist state. There are many reasons why students fall behind, and it has little to do with identity, it usually has to do with income status. I have argued for a long time that ALL students, regardless of income status should get a FREE lunch, if they want it, no questions asked. There should also be equal funding and programming at ALL schools in Sioux Falls, regardless of the neighborhood they are in. But there needs to be a community wide effort to raise wages for the working class parents, offer more affordable family housing and public funding for Pre-K education, which has proven to help with better student outcomes and saves families childcare dollars.

Of course none of this works very well without having an open and transparent conversation with the community instead of implementing polices in the dark of night.

Debt in the Sioux Falls Region

The below information was sent to me by Mike Zitterich (he notated where he got it)

Depending on what county and school district you live (within city limits) your debt could be anywhere between $2,000 and $3,000. My debt is $2,100 (Minnehaha, SFSD, City)

Rumors still circulating about 9th & Grange greenspace

The Cathedral and Pettigrew Heights neighborhood associations have already made it clear they do NOT want the greenspace and community gardens at 9th & Grange to be used for affordable housing. Both associations have shown that there are plenty of empty lots and houses that need to be torn down throughout both neighborhoods that can be used to move affordable houses to the neighborhood without using the greenspace.

As I mentioned in the past both associations have plenty of evidence that the school district and the city have been quietly working behind the scenes to take over this space for affordable housing.

A person who attended the most recent Pettigrew Heights association meeting said a city official(?) told some of the attendees that there is still a plan to move affordable houses to the greenspace (Sanford expansion was mentioned).

The land is currently owned by the School District and they may have to get an appraisal on the land before transferring it. If that happens the school board and the city council would have to approve a land transfer (there may be some legal issues with usage). The city could take it over as a park or they could try to transfer the land for affordable housing (the city already maintains the space for the school district).

I guess the first place to watch is the school board, who currently make most decisions behind closed doors, then show up to the public meeting to rubber stamp those nontransparent decisions. The agendas will have to be scrutinized closely because they may try to slip it in on the consent agenda.

As of today, the school district maintains they have NO plans for the space . . . but would they tell us if they did?

Pettigrew & Cathedral Neighborhood Associations Body Check the City & School District

I attended the almost 90 minute meeting tonight (I will have a YT video up soon if you don’t have FB) and it was pretty clear what the neighborhood wanted, GREENSPACE! There was a standing vote, and besides the reporters and city/school staff, everyone was standing in approval of leaving it a park.

The most interesting part was that it seems now the staff from the city and the school district said they have NO PLANS for it. Kevin Smith from the city further pointed out that they don’t own the property but help maintain it.

Funny how transparency works, SUNSHINE WINS THE DAY!

Did anybody even know there was a Sioux Falls School Board election?



If you do a search on google with key words ‘sioux falls school board election 2022’ you will notice the only independent media that comes up is that the election was cancelled because of no candidates except the incumbents.

The SF School District, the City of Sioux Falls and the SD SOS sites ALL mention the election in advance of the February filing deadline. But NO local mainstream media even told the public there was 2 seats up for grabs. I’m even guilty, because I can’t even find if I mentioned it on my blog.

Maybe NO ONE is running because NO ONE knew about it?

While our local media continues to give FREE campaign advertising to the incumbent mayor, they have remained silent about the school board election.

PACs are being used to funnel big money into city elections by a handful of people

Before we get to the PACs dark money into our city elections an update on the races.

In the school board race there are 3 people circulating for the two seats. Baker and Reiter plan to run for re-election, and the 3rd person’s name escapes me, but it is a woman from the banking sector.

MATT PAULSON IS USING HIS PERSONAL WEALTH TO FUNNEL MONEY INTO THE RACES USING PACS

The first PAC that is doing this is Paul TenHaken’s PAC ran by his mentor Joel Dykstra, Next Generation (DOCS). Which has funneled money to Merkouris and Curt Soehl. Major Donors below;

But the big PAC is the one that seems to be funded almost solely by Matt Paulson, Falls Community Growth (DOCS). Paulson funneled $20,000 of his personal wealth (Half from himself and Half from his LLC) into the PAC and turned around under the shield of the PAC to donate $2,500 to Soehl (which explains why certain people have decided to NOT run against him, I won’t say names) and $5,000 to Barranco.

For the record, this is totally legal, it’s just a back door way for an individual with a lot of money to give thousands of dollars to candidates while not classifying it as an individual donation. It has been going on for years from donors like Sanford, Dykhouse and Lloyd.

As someone said to me yesterday, “It seems Mr. Paulson sees himself as a kingmaker.” Money can buy you a seat on the council, he helped pay Jensen’s rent and now he is all in on some more candidates.

South Dakota Public Education’s Dirty Little Secret

While everyone is gnashing teeth over teachers rolling around on ice for a handful of bills, there is one part of the story missing from the conversation;

The South Dakota Education Association President says he believes the event was well-intentioned but…
“It just underscores the fact that educators don’t have the resources necessary to meet the needs of their students and that’s what’s kind of cropping up here I think,” SDEA President Loren Paul said.


Not really. It is a well known secret that while teacher pay in South Dakota may be dead last, administrator pay rates anywhere from 11th33rd in the country depending on the position. I have often asked the question why NON-UNION administrators are paid at such a higher National rate then teachers? This is the real disparity issue here and if it was adjusted there would be plenty of money for teacher pay and school room supplies so teachers don’t have to act like rootin’ hogs on the ice.


What often amazes me when ‘teacher pay’ stories come up every year around this time, nobody in the media talks about this disparity or the fact that a lot of private and public professional jobs like nursing also pay dead last in the state. It seems mentioning management pay in these articles is taboo.


I encourage the local media to dig around a little, and ASK why administrator pay rates average around 25th in the nation while teacher pay rates 49th? Things that make you go hmmmmm . . .

Should the Sioux Falls School Board team up with City Council to offer FREE public transit rides for minors?

As I reported in August, Rapid City decided to extend a FREE public transit ride program to students. I think Sioux Falls should do the same, and our cost would be minimal if anything. We already do it during summer months mostly so food insecure kids can eat in the summer.

Recently Congress passed an infrastructure bill that has billions in it for public transit. Sioux Falls could take advantage of this by hiring and training more drivers and extending routes and time of service.

Now, don’t be fooled, this cannot just happen with a stroke of the pen. The devil is in the details. I encourage the school board to sit down with the city council in a public work session to discuss how to move forward. Let’s face it, there would have to be some route changes and other logistics, but it’s doable.

A candidate for mayor put it best recently in a FB post;

Regardless if it’s a “public school issue,” the shortage of bus drivers is a community problem. Many SFPS students also use public transportation, and as our city grows, the need for a robust public transportation system is a must.

A lack of planning on critical issues like this is why we end up with parents being asked to drive school buses. We can and will do better.

As they point out, different branches of local government CAN work together on this for a solution. I reached out to a school board member and a city councilor last night about the idea, hopefully talks will happen soon.

Some may not know this, but I actually consulted and encouraged a city councilor to start the FREE summer youth rides when they asked me if their idea was worth pursuing. It was then and a broader approach should be pursued now.