Teacher of the Year announced tonight

Tonight’s the big night, the 2014 Sioux Falls School District Teacher of the Year will be announced tonight at a desert reception, beginning at 6:30. Here are the finalists:

Maureen Bland, First Grade - Lowell Elementary

Allison Carlson, 8th Grade Science - Patrick Henry Middle School

Sarah Henrichs, 6-8 Cluster Lang. Arts- Axtell Park Middle School

Holly Hofer, Second Grade- Robert Frost Elementary

Jessica Pomerenke, Math – Geometry- Roosevelt High School

Jacqueline Wilber, Speech/Debate- Roosevelt High School

The winner receives the honor of being the Teacher of the Year (of course), and $4,000 in cash, courtesy of Vern Eide Motorcars.

I’ll be there and will tweet the winner as soon as it’s announced. Follow me @Argus_BWisch. There will also be a story online tonight in tomorrow’s Argus.

School Board election: Where do I vote?

Sioux Falls School District Board elections are right around the corner, here’s the info you need to vote:

The City of Sioux Falls Municipal/School Board Election will be held on April 8. Citizens will vote at one of 13 designated Vote Centers, regardless of where they reside in the City.

A map containing the 13 Vote Center locations being used for the Election is available online. The map may be found at www.siouxfalls.org on the 2014 Election page under Resources.

The Vote Centers are located at:

  1. First Lutheran Church, 327 S. Dakota Ave.
  2. Memorial Middle School, 1401 S. Sertoma Ave.
  3. Maricar Community Center, 400 N. Valley View Rd.
  4. Oyate Community Center, 2421 W. 15th St.
  5. Wesley United Methodist Church, 1700 E. 6th St.
  6. Sioux Falls Arena, 1201 N. West Ave.
  7. Peace Lutheran Church, 5509 W. 41st St.
  8. Kenny Anderson Community Center, 3701 E. 3rd St.
  9. Morningside Community Center, 2400 S. Bahnson Ave.
  10. Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 5500 E. 57th St.
  11. Faith Baptist Fellowship Hall, 601 W. 57th St.
  12. Asbury United Methodist Church, 2425 S. Western Ave.
  13. Instructional Planning Center, 201 E. 38th St.

Teacher of the Year nominees

The Sioux Falls School District released the nominees for the 2014 Teacher of the Year award late last week. Here’s the information:

The following teachers have been nominated for the 2014 Dr. John W. Harris Teacher of the Year Award.


Travis Aarbo, Read 180 Teacher - Axtell Park Middle School

Maureen  Bland, First Grade - Lowell Elementary

Tammy Cooper-Mosser, First Grade  - John Harris Elementary

Allison Carlson, 8th Grade Science - Patrick Henry Middle School

Robyn Costello, Kindergarten  - John Harris Elementary

Karen Cota, Kindergarten - R.F. Pettigrew Elementary

Caron DeLamontanya, First Grade - John Harris Elementary

Loree Erickson, 6-12 SS & Math - Success Academy

Robyn Ernster, Second Grade  - John Harris Elementary

Kris Hansen, First Grade - Rosa Parks Elementary

Tara Hansen-Leinen, K-3 Resource - Rosa Parks Elementary

Sarah Henrichs, 6-8 Cluster Lang. Arts - Axtell Park Middle School

Judy Ann Hilleson, 7th Language Arts - Memorial Middle School

Holly Hofer, Second Grade - Robert Frost Elementary

Anita  Hoffmann, First Grade - Saint Mary School

Shannon Hohwieler, Kindergarten - John Harris Elementary

Kristianne Irsfeld, Fifth Grade - John F. Kennedy Elementary

Bridget Jacobs, HS Sciences - Roosevelt High School

Erin Larson, First Grade - Garfield Elementary

Julie Larsen, Fourth Grade - John F. Kennedy Elementary

Jane Lukens, 6-8 SPED - Patrick Henry Middle School

Dean Marty, Fifth Grade - Challenge Center

Rebecca Moser, First Grade  - Laura Wilder Elementary

Jessica Pomerenke, Math – Geometry - Roosevelt High School

Andrea Sailor, Second Grade - Oscar Howe Elementary

Alicia Sferrazza, First Grade- Oscar Howe Elementary

Nicole Shilmoeller, 6-8 Reading - Axtell Park Middle School

Micah Siegel, Third Grade - John Harris Elementary

Sandra Turgeon, Fifth Grade - John Harris Elementary

Nicole Valnes, Fourth Grade - Robert Frost Elementary

Jacqueline Wilber, Speech/Debate - Roosevelt High School

Lyndi Willet, Third Grade - Rosa Parks Elementary

The 2014 Dr. John W. Harris Teacher of the Year will be announced on

Monday, March 24, 2014 at an evening reception for all nominees and special guests.

The Teacher of the Year program is sponsored jointly by the Sioux Falls School District and Vern Eide Motorcars.

So far, no challenger to incumbent Doug Morrison

The deadline to submit nominating petitions to run for the Sioux Falls School District School Board is Friday, but so far, incumbent Doug Morrison is the only one who has submitted his materials.

The school district tells me if no one challenges Morrison, he wins the seat by default. Three people have taken out petitions, so it will be interesting to see what happens by the deadline Friday.

Board President  Morrison’s spot is the only open seat on the board.

Nominating packets can be picked up at the district’s finance office in the Instructional Planning Center, 201 E. 38th St., from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To be considered eligible for the office, a person must be a resident voter living within the school district’s boundaries. Nominating petitions must be filed by 5 p.m.Friday.The annual school district election, if held, will be done in conjunction with the Sioux Falls municipal election on April 8.

To learn more, call Bev Chase, Election Services at 605-367-7905 or visit the school board tab at www.sf.k12.sd.us.

February is Career and Technical Education month

CTE Academy Principal Jim Kayl and Beverly Rieck with the Dell Rapids School District shared the proclamation with me last week. Kayl is the president-elect for the South Dakota chapter of the Association for Career and Technical Education, and Rieck is the president. Photo of the two and the governor’s proclamation below.

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Longtime Sioux Falls School District administrators to retire early

The Sioux Falls School Board approved the early retirement requests of four school district administrators Monday.

Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Staff development, Sharon Schueler, Garfield Elementary principal Nancy Duncan, Washington High School assistant principal Kevin Kennedy and Lincoln High School assistant principal Mike Klinedinst will all retire at the end of this school year.

Out of those retiring, Duncan has been with the district the longest, starting in 1972, according to district information. Schueler and Kennedy started in 1977, and Klinedinst has been with the district since 1999.

Intelligent design bill coming soon

Where did we come from? How should we explain that to students?

One lawmaker has proposed a bill that would allow teachers to teach students about intelligent design — the theory that life was created by a designing intelligence, often with a religious undertone.

You can read about the bill here.

In essence, Senate Bill 112 would would make it illegal for a school board or a school administrator to prohibit teachers in public or private schools from teaching students about intelligent design and “other related topics.”

Sen. Jeff Monroe, R-Pierre, sponsored the bill and said it isn’t aimed at any specific religion.

"In our society, it’s a social debate," he said Friday. "Are we animals, did we come out of the slime and are we monkeys, genetically altered over time, or are we designed by intelligence? Interpret that however a person wants to."

The supreme court  has interpreted it as being unconstitutional to teach it alongside evolution, one of the more recent cases involving a school in Pennsylvania.

Traditionally students are taught one or the other, with primarily private religious schools teaching intelligent design, and public schools teaching evolution. The Sioux Falls School Board opposes the bill and the Associated School Boards of South Dakota is watching the discussion.

Monroe said his constituents asked for he bill. He said it allows students who can’t afford private schools to learn non-evolution-based theories. In Monroe’s bill, it leaves the question of “how we got here” up to the individual teacher to answer. 

"Schools don’t have to do anything different, if they want to teach environmental accidental-ism, that’s fine. If they want to teach both, they can teach both, too," Monroe said. He thinks teachers should be allowed to share their beliefs.

Amanda Novotny of the Sioux Falls-based Siouxland Freethinkers, opposes the bill. In cases where schools have been required to teach intelligent design, legal action has declared it unconstitutional.

Monroe’s bill does not require it. 

Novotny references the case of a group of parents vs the Dover Area School District, a  case which the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 it was unconstitutional for the Pennsylvania school district to present intelligent design as an alternative to evolution to high school biology courses. The high court said intelligent design is a religious viewpoint that advances “a particular version of Christianity,” according to a New York Times article on the ruling. 

"It’s a gross church-state violation," Novotny said of SB 112. "The way the bill is written is really opening them up for the same type of court cases to happen."

The bill also is vague enough to allow districts or administrators to vary their interpretations, Novotny said. 

"What they haven’t thought about, is conversely, they could also take it and teach that (intelligent design) is not true, because the bill is worded vaguely," Novotny said.  "It’s really putting a lot of the decision making on the teacher as far as the science curriculum."

The Sioux Falls School District opposes the bill.

"What should and should not be taught is dictated by the written curriculum for the given subject area as approved by the local school board. A teacher must follow the adopted curriculum,” the district says in their legislative position document.

The Associated School Boards of South Dakota is “monitoring” the bill.

Monroe said he anticipates there to be some debate, and looks forward to it.

No hearing date has been set yet, but Monroe anticipates it will likely be heard in the Senate Education Committee within the next few meetings.

It should be an interesting discussion.

So you want to become a school board member

UPDATE: I got in touch with School Board President Doug Morrison this evening and he said he is running again. If elected, it would be his third term on the board.

"“I have a passion for community service and education,”he said. “It’s challenging and hopefully it benefits the community in some way.”

If you want to run for school board, you can pick up a nominating packet at the Instructional Planning Center beginning tomorrow.

More details:

The packets may be picked up at the district’s finance office, located in the Instructional Planning Center, 201 E 38th Street, Monday through Friday-7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. To be considered eligible for the office, a person must be a resident voter living within the School District’s boundaries. Nominating petitions must be filed by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28. The annual School District election will be held in conjunction with the Sioux Falls Municipal Election on Tuesday, April 8.

Board President Doug Morrison’s spot is the only open seat on the board. 

For more information, call Bev Chase, Election Services at 605-367-7905 or visit the School Board tab at www.sf.k12.sd.us.

Since the school board election will be held in conjunction with the city election, I’m expecting a big turnout. Mostly because items on April’s ballot include the outdoor pool at Spellerberg, snow gates and Shape Places.

Traditionally, school board elections on their own haven’t brought in high voter turnout, which is kind of sad.

The last election, held last May and independent of any other elections, brought in voter participation of only 3.7 percent of those registered, which narrowly beat the record-low 3.55 percent from the 2009 election.

I’ll be following up as the election gets closer with profiles of the candidates.

Make sure to go out and vote!

politicalsmokeout:

Gov. Dennis Daugaard will spend millions of dollars to boost career and technical education in South Dakota’s high schools, he announced Tuesday in his State of the State speech.

The support includes $5 million in grants from the state’s Future Fund, which normally gives grants to support…

When does the Sioux Falls School District cancel school?

The weather’s been a bit tempestuous lately, but it’s about to get downright bone-chilling cold on Monday, with temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero (with windchill).

At what point does the Sioux Falls School District cancel school?

According to the district’s blog: “When wind chills approach the point where exposed flesh can freeze in 10 minutes or less, the District will typically call off school.”

But there are many other factors that come into play, such as what time of day the wind chill will be a dangerous range. Students don’t go outside for recess when the temperature or wind chill is below zero.

District spokesman Ben Schumacher told me today the District does not make a decision about school cancellations this far in advance, when we’re talking about Monday, for example.

"In cases of extreme cold and dangerous wind chills (and with snow events), the District works directly with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls to determine the danger to students and staff. The standing procedure is that the District will make a determination about school by 5 a.m. that day to notify early morning District staff of the closure – or late start – and will notify parents around 6 a.m. so they can make the necessary accommodations," he said in an email. 

If and when school is delayed or cancelled, parents/guardians will hear directly from the School District via a ParentLink phone call with specific information.

The district last called off school last April during the ice storm.

Sometimes, he said, the district has made the decision as early as the evening before, depending on what the forecast says.

That’s barring any announcement by Gov. Dennis Daugaard that all schools in the state will be closed Monday,  like Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton did today.

Lucky Minnesota students.

Stay warm!


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