Entries Tagged 'SF School District' ↓

Sioux Falls School District announces new Super

I got word last weekend that the decision would be announced soon, and it happened today;

Jane Stavem, currently the superintendent of Lake Washington School District in Redmond, Washington, was announced as the new superintendent during a press conference held by the Sioux Falls School Board Friday afternoon at the Instructional Planning Center. 

Redmond is very close to Seattle and just a few miles from where I went to HighSchool in Lynwood. Microsoft’s headquarters is in Redmond. I am very familiar with the area. It’s a more affluent school district and less diverse than Sioux Falls.

“They (Stavem and Maher) have a lot of similarities. They’re both very strong in their communication and relationship building,” board vice president Carly Reiter said.

While I know very little about Stavem, I can tell you that while Maher started out strong with these characteristics he soon dug a hole and lacked transparency. From listening to the press conference, it sounds like she brings a lot of skills to the table including some political savvy. I look forward to finding out more about her.

I also think she will probably be one of the highest paid public education employees in the state, because I doubt she left her job for less pay. She will probably be making $300K plus in benefits and salary. (she made $295K last year in her current position).

UPDATE: So why did the Sioux Falls School District have a boundary task force?

Surprise! Thanks for your input folks, but;

The new set of potential boundaries also comes more than a week after a 33-member task force convened to help provide recommendations to the school board had disbanded. The task force had asked for a third high school option, but one was not provided until after their meetings were completed.

This after Maher said at the first meeting, “We won’t be making decisions behind closed doors.” Wonder how those words taste? Probably like a school lunch.

Option A (This is the new map that appeared yesterday)
Option B (which I like more)

UPDATE II: The FIX is in on property taxes

UPDATE II: I went and talked to the equalization department today. After reviewing the increase, they explained to me that 90% of the increase is land value, in which is formulated different now. We also calculated that my taxes will probably go up $250 dollars next year, which is NOT $2 a month, just for the record.

UPDATE: I decided to go back and look at the records I could find

From 2008-2009 the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2009-2012  the value of my home went up 0%

From 2012-2016  the value of my home went up 10% (aprox 2.5% per year)

From 2016-2017  the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2017-2018  the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2018-2019  the value of my home went up 2.3%

From 2019-2020  the value of my home went up 21.9%

As I predicted and warned people, the school bond, the new county jail and the multiple TIFs we hand out are going to catch up with us. The $2 a month boloney they pitched us was a farce, because I knew they were going to make hay with the assessments. And sure enough they did.

My increased assessments year after year have been steady, but reasonable. I have owned my home for 17+ years and my property taxes have doubled in that time.

I have done little upgrades to my home, except replacing windows, doors, adding new rain gutters a privacy fence and re-shingling after storm damage. I have done NO upgrades to the interior of my house.

So imagine my surprise when I got this in the mail yesterday;

Well, I was NOT surprised, I saw this coming like a freight train. We can’t keep borrowing money in Sioux Falls and not have a way to pay those bonds, so they bleed it out of us through back door tricks like assessments. Can I afford a 21.9% increase in my assessed value? I suppose, but it also means a lot less money in my pocket.

It was interesting listening to the State Legislators talk yesterday at the legislative coffee about state funding of education. Two Republicans made great points;

• The state gives the districts money and the districts decide how that money is spent (salaries, etc.).

• Administrator pay in SD ranks at 15th while teacher pay is at 49th. I haven’t checked that stat, but I know at one time in was around 22nd. There is a obvious disparity.

• Low voter turnout at school elections. The past school bond and school board elections both had around a 4% turnout. Basically the legislator was saying, if you want to have a say on how your local district is being funded, maybe you should show up and vote in these elections. AMEN Brother! But I also have to add their is voter suppression when you use super precincts, no precincts in the northern part of our city and have district finance department employees ‘hand count’ votes, while the business director puts those counts into the system without oversight.

Who knew that owning a house that was built in 1889 could increase in value by almost 22% in one year? Not bad for a home that is 131 years old. What a joke.

Fuzzy Math on Education?

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.

Where do we stand in the upcoming Sioux Falls City Council/School Board election?

As you can see, City Councilor Theresa Stehly has been out collecting her required signatures. I hear the goal is to turn in over 1,000 signatures, but I would not be surprised if the number is closer to 2,000. She is the queen of petitioning, and it is a good way to talk to the electorate.

All potential candidates have until 5 PM, February 28 to turn in their signatures. So far Theresa and Julian are the two left (that we know of).

As it stands today, the potential race between Stehly and Count Jensen will be the only full-city ballot option besides the Charter Revision Commission’s proposed amendments. The race between Greg and Julian is a district only race (NW).

As of right now, Selberg (SW) Starr (NE) and School Board President Cynthia Mickelson have NO challengers, and I don’t suspect they will.

All precincts will be used in this election, which ironically will probably make it the most expensive city election for the lowest turnout in the history of the city. I am suspecting between 5-6,000 voters city wide.

We still have a week to go, so here are some scenarios that could happen;

• Mickelson, Starr and Stehly/Jensen (At Large) could see challengers. I have been hearing whispers there are others that have pulled petitions, but have not filed statements of intent yet. I don’t think Selberg will have a challenger.

I think once everything is filed next Friday and we have the validated candidates, then we will start seeing the fireworks, especially for the At-Large race. There are a lot of loose lips from some of the campaigns, and I have been hearing some ‘interesting’ stories about strategy. Not all bad, but you have to take some of it with a grain of salt, because amateurs like to try to set up traps with their ‘bag of tools’.

Once the validation process is over, you will be hearing more from me about the election.

Guest Post (anon); Sioux Falls Middle Schools are currently SEGREGATED

The facts are in the numbers provided by the South Dakota Department of Education on the SFSD’s website: PDF OF DOCS.

*Look Closely At:

Race/Ethnicity

Economically Disadvantaged

Student Performance

The last time the boundaries were re-drawn in the SFSD was 25 years ago. The demographics of our community have changed dramatically in those 25 years.

The process to re-draw the boundaries for ALL schools in the SFSD has now begun. A 30-member Task Force of community members has had 2 of 3 meetings. Their third meeting will be February 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 at IPC.  The District will then hold five community input sessions at multiple locations.

Sioux Falls Taxpayers have committed 190m (capital costs only) to build three new schools and make 40m of improvements at existing schools.  NOW is the time to make certain our public schools are NO LONGER segregated.

Part of what School Board President Mickelson charged the Task Force with is Quality Education For All Students by balancing the economic status across secondary schools.  This was emphasized by Doug Morrison, “We try to make our schools as reflective as possible of the community we live in.”

At both TF meetings, several members have suggested moving specialty programs (Spanish Immersion and the Challenge Center) from Edison to George McGovern.  This would move approximately 500 students TO McGovern and 500 students OUT OF McGovern to aid in the effort to balance the socioeconomic and ethnicity numbers.  There would be no additional cost involved for transportation.  McGovern students are currently 100% bused and students attending all specialty schools in the SFSD are required to provide their own transportation or pay to be bused.

Each time this has been brought up, Doug Morrison, the District’s TF facilitator,has shot the suggestion down.  His argument is that the District wants to keep these programs centrally located.  With a close look at where the District’s specialty programs are located, This Response Does Not Hold Up.

Currently there are multiple specialty programs located in the:

 NW Quadrant:

 All City Elementary at Jane Addams

 CTE

 New Tech High

Dual Immersion at Hayward  (*this program is in its first year, an additional grade will be added each year) 

Additional Specialty Programs not located in central SF:

Rosa Parks Dual Immersion (mirrors the program at Hayward)

Lincoln High School (Challenge Center)

Look closely at the numbers provided by the SD Department of Education. Sioux Falls Taxpayers have committed almost 200 million dollars in order to provide a quality education for all of our kids.

NOW is the time to desegregate Sioux Falls schools.

Will Mickelson have a challenger for Sioux Falls School Board?

Sioux Falls School Board President Cynthia Mickelson currently does NOT have a challenger for the seat. As I have mentioned before, there is only one official race for the April 14th School Board/City Council election, the race in the Northwest District between Neitzert and Beaudion.

There are 3 other council seats up for re-election.

While I do suspect Alex Jensen will have a challenger for the At-Large position, I’m not sure the other 3 races will see any challengers.

Mickelson steamrolled her way into the seat spending an unprecedented $16K for the seat, even placing signs in the Tea School District. I find it ironic that Cynthia serves on the SFSD board while her husband is busy wreaking questionable havoc on the environment with his CAFO business, while costing taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees for pushing unconstitutional laws against petition gatherers. Of, course, many would say, that has nothing to do with Cynthia, but if you look at her donor list from when she ran the first time, I think it is very relevant.

There continues to be a Monarchy in Sioux Falls and South Dakota, and I think Cynthia’s title as Board President should be changed to Dutchess of Schools.

Sioux Falls School District Boundary Task Force Meeting II: 1-29-20

There was some interesting things discussed in the meeting. You get the feeling that some ‘segregation’ is still being pushed by SFSD administrators with some push back from task force members. I don’t have children, so maybe I am missing something and could be way off kilter in my assessment, but similar to the bond task force, it seems the administrators have a predetermined result and are trying to mold the task force into that direction.

I had to laugh at the first meeting when Super Maher said decisions are not being made behind closed doors. If you have to state that disclaimer in public, it makes you a bit suspicious. I’m surprised he didn’t say that he makes ‘perfect’ phone calls . . .

Watch it yourself and you be the judge.

Will Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly run for a 2nd term?

It’s a question I get almost daily, and I don’t know the answer to it. I did have a conversation with Theresa this morning, and she did confirm to me that she has still not decided, but told me to share this message,

“I have been praying about the decision and have been praying for our mayor.”

I hope Theresa can make a decision soon, so if she does decide to NOT run someone other candidates can get in the race. I told her personally that I would respect either decision, I know the toll the council position has taken on her, yes, some of it self-inflicted, but no one can deny that she has worked harder to inform citizens than any councilor since the home rule charter was instituted.

I also want to say that this may be a dismal election. There are 4 city council seats up for grabs and 1 school board position, so far there is only one city council race that has a challenger and that is the race for the NW district between incumbent Neitzert and Julian Beaudion. Even if Theresa decides to not run against Jensen, I think he will have at least one challenger. That being said, there may only be two races on the ballot with only one of those seats being city wide, the current seat held by Stehly. If there is only one city wide race on the ballot come April, I expect the voter turnout to be extremely low. There is still time though, and other councilors and Mickelson (school board) could get challengers. We will see.

Sioux Falls School District 1st Boundary Task Force meeting

UPDATE: So when I posted this, I had not watched it yet, so being the government nerd I am, I decided to wade thru it. It got good at the end where golden parachute boy, Doug Morrison started allowing public input. People asked poignant questions about enrollment and effects on private education, there was even some laughter about it, to which Mr. Doug ‘Oblivious’ Morrison blew off the laughter and pretended the sarcasm and irony did not exist, and admitted he was awaiting the data. When I pay taxes I expect services, when I see these kind of reactions I feel like I just paid for a $50 hamburger that tastes like, looks like, and probably is goat sh*t.