It’s not often said that School Board meetings are exciting, and rarely does the Board need to set aside time for public input. Last night was an exception to both.
To begin the meeting, a group of passionate parents brought to the Board their concerns about the population limitations of the Spanish Immersion Program at Rosa Parks. Currently, there are two sections of kindergarten each year, which inevitably results in a waiting list of students and their parents hoping for a coveted spot to open up. The parents pleaded with the Board to explore any and all possibilities to expand the program, and Dr. Homan was directed to do just that.
After Darin Daby was recognized by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota for his long and dedicated service to the students of South Dakota, students in our Structured Teach program were also recognized for their honesty and integrity. While on a walk recently, students found a purse belonging to an FBI agent from Rapid City. Teachers turned the students’ desire to return the purse to its owner into a valuable learning experience.
After the board discussed our new K-5 Math curriculum (that discussion can be seen here), heard an update on network and infrastructure upgrades that have happened in our school buildings (view that report here), and got updated on the District’s Quarterly Financial Report (seen here), the board heard information regarding Governor Daugaard’s education proposals outlined in his State of the State address. Business Manager Todd Vik laid out the governor’s ideas side-by-side with the realities in the state and in the Sioux Falls School District, and the resulting discussion was lively.
You can see this presentation in two parts:
You can plainly see the governor’s selective statistical data, his one-size-fits-all attitude toward education, and the stark contrast between his campaign promises and current attitude toward education as a priority. The Board seemed to agree that these misguided attempts at education reform do not meet the needs of the children of South Dakota or of the Sioux Falls School District.
Tony Venhuizen with the governor’s office told Keloland TV on January 23 that “The governor is open to ideas that are geared toward that, getting better student achievement. Certainly if Dr. Homan has those ideas she’d like to share, or if anyone has ideas, we’d of course be happy to hear them. There’s no proposal from her, or counter proposal from her, to reach the same goal, which of course is student achievement.”
As was outlined during the Board meeting last night, the Sioux Falls School District has routinely and vocally supported a plan promoted by the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce since 2007, which would make education funding a close-to-average priority in South Dakota, raise the quality of teachers and staff in the state, and raise student achievement. And thus far, unfortunately, Pierre leadership has been unwilling – and certainly not “happy” – to hear it.