Sioux Falls School Board unanimously approves bond referendum vote
The Sioux Falls School Board voted unanimously on Monday night in favor of a resolution to have a bond referendum vote on Sept. 18.
Registered voters will have 190 million reasons to head to the polls that day -- as the school district asks Sioux Falls residents to approve a $190 million bond referendum to add three schools, purchase land for those schools and make dozens of improvements and upgrades to other schools.
"When we think of competing, I'm not talking about football or basketball, I'm talking about competing for businesses and competing for that workforce," said Superintendent Dr. Brian Maher.
Maher said voters approving the bond is about more than brick and mortar.
"We've gotta make sure that all of our schools -- but in this case our public schools -- are staying competitive so that businesses want to move here and people with children want to move here," Maher said.
School Board President Kent Alberty said it's a good problem to have.
"We are a growing school district and we want to be able to meet the needs of every student in the Sioux Falls public schools," Alberty said.
At the beginning of Monday night's meeting, two people spoke against the referendum vote -- and as the agenda advanced to the item -- two others spoke in favor. With a date set for a vote, Alberty said school board members will be pounding the pavement to educate voters.
"Folks that may not have been involved in the process for whatever reasons, we can get accurate information out to anyone who might have questions and we will do that," Alberty said.
The last time Sioux Falls had a bond election? 1997 -- and it was for just over $30 million dollars. Alberty said that money's just about drained up, and with inflation over the last 21 years, that number is closer to the $190 million the board is asking voters for now.
"When I talk to folks in other parts of the country, the public schools aren't held in the high regard that they are here. And that's been a process that we've worked very hard at and we need to continue to do that," Alberty said. "We're a big part of this community and we want to continue to be a big part of the success of this community."
One thing the board did not discuss at Monday night's meeting is the methodology of the vote and earlier in the day, Maher said he had no idea how they'd be voting. Alberty said the board will decide Tuesday whether to handle its own election or whether to enlist the help of the Minnehaha County Auditor -- but either way, they both said the election will be conducted with integrity and held to a high standard.
The School Board has broken down what they'd like to spend the $190 million dollars on, as well as a "bond calculator" to estimate how much a "yes" vote will increase your property taxes. You can find that list and calculator under "related links."